We never can tell where inventions will ultimately take us, or how their intended purposes might later be eclipsed by other applications. When the first lasers were built in 1960, no one quite knew what to do with them. Today, there are more than a score of laser types, with applications in medicine, skin treatment, electronics, industry, communications and scientific research and measurement. Liquid crystals were discovered in 1888, but no one really figured out what to do with them until the 1960s.
Even the most novel and promising technologies can be relegated to the dustbin of history by later developments. Still, some stick around. CDs and digital music have yet to completely kill off vinyl and, despite transistors, vacuum tubes still survive in guitar amplifiers.
Will magnetic soaps be the next big thing, or will they end up another washout? I suspect the former, if only because of the ubiquity of surfactants in nature and in industry -- and the importance of surface tension in chemistry and biology. The question is, will it be magnetic soap our children use or some strange offshoot, such as a three-dimensional video system made up of luminescent suspended colloids in a magnetic bottle?
- Boyle, Rebecca. "New Magnetic Soap Could Clean Oil Spills with No Suds Left Behind." Popular Science. Jan. 25, 2012. (April 9, 2012) http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-01/new-magnetic-soap-could-clean-oil-spills-no-suds-left-behind
- Brown, Paul et al. "Magnetic Control Over Liquid Surface Properties with Responsive Surfactants." Angewandte Chemie International Edition. Vol. 51, no. 10. Page 2414. March 5, 2012.
- Danigelis, Alyssa. "World's First Magnetic Soap Invented." Discovery News. Jan. 25, 2012. (April 9, 2012) http://news.discovery.com/tech/worlds-first-magnetic-soap-invented-120125.html
- Drury, Jim. "Magnetic Soap Could Suck Up Oil Spills." Reuters. Jan. 27, 2012. (April 9, 2012) http://www.reuters.com/video/2012/01/27/magnetic-soap-could-suck-up-oil-spills?videoId=229240491
- Eastoe, Julian, professor of chemistry, University of Bristol. Personal interview. April 16, 2012.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Emulsion." (April 9, 2012) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/186307/emulsion
- Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Dairy Product: Homogenization." (April 9, 2012) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/149947/dairy-product/50422/Homogenization
- Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Surfactant." (April 9, 2012) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/575010/surfactant
- Flatow, Ira. "Magnetic Soap May Help Clean Up Spilled Oil." NPR. Jan. 27, 2012. (April 9, 2012) http://www.npr.org/2012/01/27/145990087/magnetic-soap-may-help-clean-up-spilled-oil
- Hadlington, Simon. "The World's First Magnetic Soap." Royal Society of Chemistry. Jan. 26 2012. (April 9, 2012) http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2012/January/magnetic-soap-detergent.asp
- Roach, John. "Magnetic Soap Made for Oil Spills." MSNBC. Jan. 25, 2012. (April 9, 2012) http://www.futureoftech.msnbc. msn.com/technology/futureoftech/magnetic-soap-made-oil-spills-84756
- Shogren, Elizabeth. "Why Dawn is the Bird Cleaner of Choice in Oil Spills." NPR. June 22, 2010. (April 11, 2012) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127999735
- Sohn, Emily. "Study: Chemicals that Clean Oil Spills Harm Fish." Discovery News. April 10, 2009. (April 12, 2012) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30158418/#.T429yqtSRlo
- Solon, Olivia. "Chemists Develop Magnetic Soap that Could Mop Up Oil Spills." Wired UK. Jan. 23, 2012. (April 9, 2012) http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-01/23/magnetic-soap
- University of Bristol. "Bristol Scientists Produce World's First Magnetic Soap." Jan. 23, 2012. (April 10, 2012) http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2012/8179.html