Soap Film between Two Equal and Parallel Rings

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A soap film is formed between two parallel rings of radius separated by a distance . To minimize the surface-tension energy of the soap film, its total area seeks a minimum value. The derivation of the shape of the film involves a problem in the calculus of variations. Let represent the functional form of the film in cylindrical coordinates. The area is then given by . The integrand is determined by the Euler–Lagrange equation , which can be reduced to its first integral , a constant. The solution works out to , a catenary of revolution, with the boundary condition . When , the film collapses to disks within the two rings.

Contributed by: S. M. Blinder (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA




[1] G. B. Arfkin and H. J. Weber, Mathematical Methods for Physicists, ed., Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2005 pp. 1044–1049.

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