Monday, July 25, 2005


Hello all. In yet another selfless act with the aim educating the public, Jason and I dedicated a small portion of our ultra-bizarre weekend to the scientific study of bubbles.

You might remember not so long ago, that I asked if anyone had a burning, unanswered question, and indeed, many of you did. Any further questions you may have can be passed along to me at my email address (check the profile). Today's question comes to us from the brilliant mind of Mr. Zydeco Fish. He's a librarian on the tail end of parental leave who hates Franklin the Turtle and has some interesting opinions on trampoline retail. You should check him out.

His burning question:

This is actually the wife's question: Why are the bubbles in Perrier smaller than the bubbles in soda water? When I questioned if that was indeed so, she said they even taste smaller.
Carbonated water, also known as soda water, sparkling water, or seltzer water, is water containing carbon dioxide, which bubbles out when the drink is depressurised. When bottled or supplied for final consumption without flavoring, it may be called club soda.

So they all belong to one happy family, and would be better classed as soft drinks than as water. In light of this, we also added 2 more controls to our experiments:

Club soda, which is just carbonated water as noted above.

And tonic water, which is actually a little different from all of the others, because it has the addition of Quinine. The Q adds a somewhat bitter taste and medicinal properties, including anti-malaria ones. I wouldn't count on it keeping you safe deep in the jungles of India though, because today they use significantly less Q, and they sweeten the whole thing to boot - still, there's enough to make it glow under a black light, which is pretty creepy.

We decided to just pour ourselves 5 drinks apiece, and observe away. Right away we encountered problems, because both the tonic water and the S. Pellegrino exploded upon opening, with absolutely no provocation. The Perrier does not explode, but it's the most fizzy as we pour it.

Finally, we got every glass filled for inspection. Now, keep in mind, we were looking for a Why, as in Why are Perrier bubbles smaller? And you know what we found? We found that Mrs. Zydeco is full of shit.

In a 5-glass comparison, the Perrier bubbles appeared to the naked eye to actually be the largest bubbles, excepting perhaps the tonic water.

Put to a taste test, I confirmed that none of these are to my taste. I made crazy faces and spit in the grass numerous times. Who drinks this shit? Do you know what makes the first three "mineral"? Mineral water is water containing minerals or other dissolved substances that alter its taste or give it therapeutic value. Salts, sulfur compounds, and gases are among the substances that can be dissolved in the water. That's right. Mineral water is just water they haven't bothered to clean! It still has crap in it. It tastes foul. It's like drinking silt. Blech. But my Dedication to Science is unwavering, and I soldiered on.

Tasting them comparatively, it seems as though the Perrier actually tastes the flattest, so if you consider no bubbles to be the smallest, then I guess you're on to something. Otherwise....the whole theory has just fallen apart. But that's okay, because when you're doing Science, you can't just look to confirm your theory; you have to report evidence as it is. And this is how it is: Pellegrino has tiny bubbles, makes your lips tingle, and is ticklish under your tongue. I still don't think it, or any of them, are fit for consumption.

So we did one final test, being the bottles were still 3/4 full. We took each of them out into the grass, shook them up for a good 10 seconds each, and uncapped them in the general direction of each other. The Perrier gave Jason a decent soaking. The Pellegrino was a disappointment; even the MC stuff out-effervescented it! Finally, it was a showdown between the club soda and the tonic water. I shook my soda with vigour, but before I could really do mine justice, I was pelted in the head with the cap from the tonic water, and then a split second later, I was hit by a wave so wet and so surprising that it almost knocked me off my feet. It soaked me completely. So if you're purchasing water expressly for the purposes of a water fight, I totally recommend the tonic.

This is all well and good, but we're still left with an unanswered Why? Why are Perrier bubbles the smallest? Well, they're not. If they were, I was ready to crack a joke against the french and being small in general, since Perrier is bottled in France and S. Pellegrino is bottled in Italy, but sadly, the MC being bottled in Quebec, even the joke falls flat on its face.

So here I am, hours after experimentation. The mineral waters have dried on me, leaving behind their undissolved crap. I am sticky. Everywhere. Some of me is salty, lots of me is sweet
(the tonic water alone had sugar). My foot still hurts. And I find that there is only one plausible conclusion to all of this:

Mrs. Zydeco is insane in the membrane. I know that sounds harsh, but really, Mrs. Zydeco should look at her insanity as a wonderful opportunity. Insanity is not a medical diagnosis; it's a legal concept. So, if Mrs. Zydeco has ever entertained thoughts of murdering the Mr. in his sleep, this is the time to do it! Carpe Diem!

Otherwise, say, if Mr. Zydeco values his life for example, you may want to attempt to cure it. Historically, insanity has been difficult to cure since it's not actually a medical condition, but popular attempts have been made in the name of exorcism, violent blows to the head, the administering of Croton oil, better bowel movements, and of course, Opium.

Now, even with my background in psychology, it still came as a surprise to me that constipation may be a cause of insanity. But it makes sense. Long before I proclaimed Mrs. Zydeco was insane, I proclaimed her full of shit. So there you have it. Zydeco, I suggest you first slip some laxatives into her Perrier (the stuff tastes awful anyway, I'm sure she won't notice), and only if that does not work, think about contacting your local exorcist.

I hope this has been helpful!

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