Giant’s Causeway And Soap Bubbles
Believe it or not the basalt pillars of the Giant’s Causeway, Ireland, have a common denominator with soap bubbles.
The thinnest known substance, being 20,000 times finer than a human hair, are soap bubbles. When several bubbles are joined together, the result is nothing short of amazing, as each bubble naturally minimizes surface area.
This ‘Bubble Conjecture’, or isoperimetric problem, has only recently been proven and is now used by scientists to solve complex mathematical equations and calculations.
As more bubbles are added, different shapes materialize, until you can reach the perfect hexagon (six sides).
This minimization of space is seen as bees create their honeycomb. This way the bees use the very precious and costly-to-create wax, in the most efficient storage form known.
What scientists are only just discovering is that the hexagon is a natural forming phenomenon, where there is pressure that optimizes space.
The Giant’s Causeway, a World Heritage Site, on the northern Irish coast, is an area where around 40,000 interlocking basalt columns form an amazing landscape. It is registered as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom.
The legend has it that two giants, one in Ireland and one in Scotland, about 80 kms away, were having an argument. The end result was that one giant threw a lot of stones trying to form a causeway for the other giant to walk over and make good his threats.
The reality is almost as spectacular as the legend. The odd shaped stone pillars were formed through an ancient volcanic eruption, around 60 million years ago. Scientists believe that following a volcanic eruption a lake was formed. As the lake dried out, the pillars of basalt began to form. As the surface tension was minimized, the cracks formed into the amazingly symmetrical shapes we see today.
Most of the stone pillars are hexagonal, though there are some pillars with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest being around 12 metres high.
Looking at Susanna Drury’s engraving, ‘A View Of The Giant’s Causeway’, it would appear that the pillars have eroded down with time. Drury, an Irish painter, first drew attention to the Giant’s Causeway with her water colour and engraving created around 1743.