Bubbles Like a Burning Glass

An ice cube in water in a bowl on my counter top. Not copyrighted. An ice cube in water in a bowl on my counter top. Not copyrighted.

I t takes little effort to find, all throughout the vastness of the digital nowhere, blog posts reproducing the words of Henry David Thoreau, in any season, on any natural or political phenomena. And here too you will discover photos of Walden Pond (I have taken a few of these as well). What I find disheartening always is the little © that often accompanies these photos as they “illustrate” the “stolen” words of Thoreau. Mostly I don’t find these photos very interesting; and besides, if you’re like me, you’ve just positioned your “phone” and let it do the rest. But hey, don’t steal someone’s “work”! Anyway, ironies abound in the world where we illustrate Thoreau with our “property rights.”

But I came here with this for a different point…bubbles like a burning glass…to focus attention on the radiative force of the sun, and the little and myriad ways it is amplified.

…I was surprised to find that directly under the bubble the ice was melted with great regularity in the form of a saucer reversed, to the height of five eighths of an inch in the middle, leaving a thin partition there between the water and the bubble, hardly an eighth of an inch thick; and in many places the small bubbles in this partition had burst out downward, and probably there was no ice at all under the largest bubbles, which were a foot in diameter. I inferred that the infinite number of minute bubbles which I had first seen against the under surface of the ice were now frozen in likewise, and that each, in its degree, had operated like a burning glass on the ice beneath to melt and rot it. These are the little air-guns which contribute to make the ice crack and whoop.

Thoreau, Walden, “House-Warming

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Douglas Storm is a host and producer for Interchange on Bloomington, Indiana's community radio station WFHB. "Why then do you try to 'enlarge' your mind? Subtilize it..."

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