Waves and Bubbles

 – Studying the amazing phenomenon of bubbles –

After the last storm has subsided it takes a while before the sea calms down as well. The ocean is breathing, a huge swell is rolling down the Sea of Cortez and makes paddling exciting.


 No wind, but gigantic waves.

 Bubbles float around on the heaving sea.

 Wherever the waves break there are great bubble factories.

Although made of the same stuff as what surrounds them, air and water, they float like little alien space ships on the border between the two media. They are incredibly fragile and illusive, you never know how long they last.

Born out of chaos but now displaying extraordinary order, simplicity, and equilibrium; they are messages of the often invisible lawfulness of nature.

You can see me and the kayak reflecting on the one-inch bubble.

 The moment they break. Nothing remains – water and air again. What is form other than emptiness, and what is emptiness other than form?


 Bubbles everywhere. The world is full of bubbles: our own planet is something like a bubble with a liquid core and a semi solid skin.

* * *

 This is the Bubble Nebula (NGC7635) somewhere out there, light years away:

 Slightly to the lower right of the Bubble Nebula is Tycho’s Supernova. It once played some role in the great struggle for acceptance of Copernicus’s new Heliocentric Theory, that the earth moves around the sun and not vice versa. It’s sudden appearance was a proof that the sky was indeed changing, contrary to the classical Ptolemaic view.


 The entire universe is often modeled as the surface of an expanding bubble: every point is moving away from any other point, infinite and yet with a finite size, space that curves back onto itself.


 Chaos, the birthplace of structure.

What a mystery!

Bubbles are born when two formless media – gas and liquid – meet and when the border between them becomes chaotic. It is the amazing event when out of undistinguished, unstructured, shapeless matter suddenly form spontaneously arises, when something or rather some thing is born, when separation occurs and identity is created. As opposed to air and water, a bubble is clearly a thing. It has a distinct form, it reflects light, it casts a shadow, it provides resistance to airflow and moves with the wind, if you are careful you can touch it. It is a thing made of exactly the same stuff like the surrounding matter. However, it is separate, it has a border around it, it has what can be called an identity. And this potentiality of form, of even very unique form, of individuality and identity, of “thing-ness”, is obviously hidden inside of matter. The possibility for such amazing order and structure – god forbid to call it beauty – is simply an invisible attribute of the dull, shapeless soup of matter. And what a mystery that it takes in fact the condition of chaos to bring out this concealed, highly organized quality.

The most fascinating moment is, of course, when the bubble bursts, when the structure collapses and the “thing” disappears, vanishes without the slightest residue, when the thing reunites with the “thinglessness” around. We ask: where did “it” go when “it” actually never came, when “it” was only appearance that fooled us.  – What a mystery!


Next day the big swells are gone and only gentle riffles are dancing on the sea, a degree of chaos in which the birth of bubbles does not yet occur. A partly cloudy sky is reflecting on the surface, painting mesmerizing patterns.


 Looking at the surface in a certain angle, it becomes transparent, and you can see the fish swarm below. Suddenly the dancing veil of illusive shapes is ripped open, revealing another world underneath.

 The dance of perception: Forever changing, resembling, in the midst of apparent chaos, the hidden orderliness, the inescapable lawfulness.

                                                              Klaus  January 22, 2008

This entry was posted in 2007/2008, Articles, Winters and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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