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Why Double Bubbles Form the Way They Do

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Science  17 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5460, pp. 1910-1912
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5460.1910a

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Summary

An international team of mathematicians has announced a proof of the "double bubble" conjecture, which states that when two soap bubbles come together, they form a double bubble in order to enclose the total volume with the minimum surface area. By honing a new technique for analyzing the stability of competing shapes, the team has shown that only the standard shape is truly minimal--any other, supposedly area-minimizing shape can be ever so slightly twisted into a shape with even less area, a contradiction that rules out these other candidates.