or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Friday, November 18, 2005

Fatal Error

Here's a fascinating piece about the invention of the coloured soap bubble. I bet you thought it would be as simple as putting food colouring into a soap-and-water solution, right? Turns out that since 1) the dye sticks to the water but not the soap, 2) the dye molecules are large and heavy compared to the water molecules, and 3) a soap bubble is a sheet of water between two sheets of soap, all the colour just slides right to the bottom of the bubble.

But although I am very fond of pointing readers in the direction of interesting news, I'm even more fond of spotting and dissecting mistakes, and here are a couple, from page 9 of the 11-page piece:

Ram Sabnis is a leader among a very small group of people who can point to a dye-chemistry Ph.D. on their wall. Only a handful of universities in the world offer one, and none are in the U.S. (Sabnis got his in Bombay). He holds dozens of patents from his work in semiconductors (dying silicon) and biotechnology (dying nucleic acids).

A very easy mistake to make, really. No spell-checker would catch it. But it's still a mistake, and it still has no place in a magazine such as Popular Science (vulgarly contracted into "PopSci", for no discernible reason).

The progressive form of the verb "to die" is "dying". The progressive form of the verb "to dye" is "dyeing". People mix them up at their peril.


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