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MIT student blogger Laura N. '09

Bubbles and UROPs by Laura N. '09

OK, so we're going to follow up on this white water rapids question, because I have nothing better to do with my life.

OK, so we’re going to follow up on this white water rapids question. Some interesting theories have been tossed around, and I’d like to discuss them, because I have nothing better to do with my life.

First off, super biology queen Mollie says, “I’m sure at least some of the foam is due to proteins and oils sloughed off the skin of the people on the slides — when you shake up a water/protein solution (for example, by sending water + people goo down a water slide at high speed), you get bubbles.” This is similar to Shannon’s comment, which suggested that the chlorine in the water might have something to do with it. Now, I know Mollie’s onto something, because that’s definitely true. But you can witness this white water phenomenon all the time- when no one’s used the slide for 15 hours, in pool water, in salt water, in fresh water, in the ocean, where I’m sure that a bunch of people going to the beach isn’t enough to supply the whole damn ocean with enough sloughed proteins to make every single wave crest white. Plus, there aren’t any sloughed skin cells in my drinking water (…I hope) when I turn the faucet on high to fill a glass, but the white foam appears anyway. I’d be willing to bet that the type of water and the things in it (salt, chlorine, oils) play some kind of role in how pronounced the foam is or how long it sticks around, but that can’t be the whole story.

Of course, Dan is completely right when he says that air bubbles get into the water, causing the foam. But why is it white? That’s my question here.

Shannon’s going in the right direction when she starts talking about optics: “Wait, how about this… since water generally reflects color (blue on sunny days, grey on cloudy ones), and the bubbles are thin layers of water on almost every side, maybe it’s just the overload of colors that it’s exposed to on all those sides. White is all the colors combined, right? I just remember it as the opposite of paint.”

Now I think we’ve got it. Only, I’m not sure it has anything to do with what the water is actually surrounded by. A single bubble is iridescent, right? You can see streaks of all different colors in it, because of the way light refracts when it passes through the thin film of water. Remember- a green streak absorbs all of the light except green- that’s what’s being reflected back to your eye. If something is white, that means all of the light is reflected. So I imagine that when you have a bunch of really small bubbles next to each other, all of those colors combine to give white light reflected back. Maybe. It still seems like a stretch to me, but it’s the best I’ve got.

Responses to Comments:

Anna asked: Are there any IKEA stores (the Swedish furniture store chain) anywhere in the Boston/ Cambridge area? Hopefully (crosses fingers)I’ll get into MIT, and if I do, I need a place to buy inexpensive yet quality home stuff; or are most dorms already furnished? (Sorry for the weird question).
OK, there is totally an IKEA…somewhere…nearby. I know this because my awesome floor planned an IFAF (or almost planned an IFAF?) to visit the nearby IKEA with another floor. Just…for fun. Or something. Anyway, so I know there is one somewhere, but I’m not sure where. So I asked Sam, who said, “There is an IKEA somewhere in Boston. It just recently opened. I don’t know where, exactly, but it’s on the green line. So it won’t take you more than 30 – 45 minutes to drive there.” It’s important to note that your dorm will come with a bed, desk, chair, and closest/dresser, but like Anthony says, sometimes some extra light is nice.

Anna asked: Many colleges let students pay for part of their tuition through on-campus jobs. Does MIT have any interesting jobs of this nature (such as laboratory work, research, or other science-related jobs, etc). Have you or anyone else you know had some sort of experience with this? If so, how does one go about applying to these?
This ties in nicely with what SUchi asked: Question: How ample are research oppurtunities for those whose major is not scientific? Like, what if I were to major in eco.?

If you’ve been keeping up with the financial aid information that you’ve been sent (which can be really hard, so now worries), you’ll know that MIT requires each student to contribute a certain amount to their own education each year. (Check out the Making MIT Affordable pamphlet for more information.) This number was $5,500 per year, but then something happened where MIT decided to match Federal Pell Grants, which for many lucky students (like me! =) lowered their total self-help. At least, I think that’s how it happened. In any case, the point is that you’ll be responsible for some amount (less than or equal to $5,500 per year) towards your own tutition. You should have already sent in a form detailing how much of that you plan to earn and how much you plan to borrow. (But don’t worry, those numbers are completely flexible, so you can always change them if your financial/employment situation changes.)

There are plenty of jobs to be had on campus. You can be a dorm desk worker, an admissions office worker, a library assistant, and a million other things. Of course, if that’s not cool enough for you (but really, who doesn’t want to work for this guy?), you can always be a lab rat. I mean scientist. =) UROPs are plentiful- just check out Melis’s blog for a whole bunch of cool projects people have worked on. In my experience, everyone who has wanted a UROP has found one, one way or the other. Of course, some projects and labs are much more popular than others, so you may not to get exactly the position you want, but you should be able to find something.

At MIT, there’s research into everything. If you’re specifically talking about econ, check out their research page and browse. It’s good advice for any topic that you’re interested in- after checking the employment listings and the UROP webpage, just surf around the MIT site. From the main page for each department you can usually find a research page pretty easily. Don’t be shy about just emailing professors and asking them about their work- that’s how Mollie got her job.

7 responses to “Bubbles and UROPs”

  1. Jon says:

    just to respond to the IKEA question….I think the one you’re thinking of is the one that just opened recently in Avon….which is about 30 minutes from the city. It’s coveniently situated right next to Jordan’s Furniture….so you should be able to find any and all furniture you need in one day!

  2. Sylvia says:

    erm well the water rapid foam is actually air bubbles (air being compressed into water) like you said. :] As for why the air bubbles are white, well I agree with you on how the white light waves reflect all other colors except white. This site can give you more of an explanation on how bubbles reflect color.

    So basically, the light waves travel in an ‘up & down’ vibration (aka crest-to-trough waves) and create an interference, thus creating the different combinations of colors on bubbles. Though I don’t think this applies to Pure air bubbles alone, but just for bubbles with other substances combined. I hope this helped a little lol and wow, bubbles are somewhat more interesting than I thought… :p

  3. Anonymous says:

    Here is an explanation of why the water in clouds appears white:

  4. Molly says:

    I agree with Shannon on the white foam. smile

  5. l0ngL says:

    Hey Laura! I just want to know whether pre-/orientation programs will provide food for participants during the first week or two, or students are expected to pay for whatever they wish to eat.

  6. Shannon says:

    I was right. Wow.

  7. ezekiel says:

    can i pls have a copy of ur prospectus?