19 August 2009

Zapping the Ivories

Probably my only contribution to science will be as the first person to deliberately microwave a bar of Ivory soap.

This was back in the early 1990s when I was writing a book called Soap Science: A Science Book Bubbling with 36 Experiments. I wanted to find some new activities using soap, a very old material, rather than simply crib or adapt what previous science-experiment books had done.

I figured that the microwave oven was relatively new as a common household device, and therefore unexplored territory. First I tried zapping other soap brands, and learned that microwaving them made them...a little warmer.

Then I tried Ivory Soap, and got to see... Well, look at the Ivory Soap experiment at Steve Spangler Science, with photographs and a video. And I believe I was the first person ever to see that phenomenon.


Wendy said...

Wow! I haven't read your book, but someone told me about this once, and then it was a great party trick in college and at summer camp. Thanks!

James C. Wallace II said...

I love cool stuff like this. I'll try this one tonight, then figure out a way to work into next years Summer Honors program. I like putting dry ice in a 2 litre soda bottle, sealing it and watching it explode. The concussion wave is a hoot and kids love it.