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Dip a wire frame into a bubble mix and you have a bubble forming a minimal surface spanning the wire frame. These bubble surfaces have been used to demonstrate math and physics concepts like topological surfaces, Steiner trees and of course minimal surfaces.

I'd like to do a demonstration on making Seifert surfaces using wireframe knots. How can I solidify such a surface? Ideally I'd like students to dip a wireframe knot in, take it out with the bubble surface, and then do something to the surface to solidify it. This will allow students to rotate it around to consolidate their spatial understanding of the surface, and refer back to it constantly.

Can it be frozen? I've looked up freezing bubbles with dry ice but that causes the bubbles to burst. How about liquid nitrogen?

Or could there be some special bubble mix that allows me to do this kind of thing?

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  • $\begingroup$ I do not know of anything. If you can compute what such surfaces should look like, maybe you can have them dip the wireframes to see what they look like, and then just give them solid models which have been printed on a 3d printer? $\endgroup$ – Steven Gubkin Dec 2 '14 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ That's an idea, but I'm fully expecting they can come up with shapes I don't forsee, and I'd like to give them a sense of ownership by immediately solidifying their creations. $\endgroup$ – Herng Yi Dec 3 '14 at 1:54
  • $\begingroup$ again, I know that this isn't exactly what you are looking for but maybe after they make their shape and dip it, allow them to take a picture with their phone/camera. You could print out all of the pictures to make a nice collage to hang on the wall $\endgroup$ – celeriko Dec 4 '14 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with @celeriko, maybe finding a way to photograph bubbles with exist momentarily is the way to go... if there was some way of capturing an image which was later manipulable with software that would be better. Like 3D imaging perhaps. Very interesting question. $\endgroup$ – James S. Cook Dec 7 '14 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ Frank Morgan (math.williams.edu/morgan) has done a lot of work with bubbles and may know of some method of freezing them. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Sanfratello Dec 9 '14 at 3:33
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Usual bubbles can be freezed. See Bubbles freezing at -26°C and Frozen Bubbles 01-24-11. According to WikiHow no special bubble mix is required. Obvious idea: use very cold water to minimize the required time.

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    $\begingroup$ Great video! Luosto, Finland, -26°C. Difficult to duplicate those conditions elsewhere. $\endgroup$ – Joseph O'Rourke Dec 7 '14 at 0:12

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