Buckminster Fuller considers the tedious method of charting out circles using π that he learned in school, against the ease at which the bubbles are created and destroyed in the wake of a boat.
The print is letterpress and silkscreen, combining the tedious method of typesetting with the swift method of silkscreening, used on the larger bubbles on the bottom. The geometry of how bubbles pack and attach to each other is very interesting; a program made in Processing assisted in drawing the bubbles and moving them to their most stable positions.
The quote from Buckminster Fuller reads:
Looking back at the wake of my ship one day in 1917, I became interested in its beautiful white path. I said to myself, "That path is white because of the different refractions of light by the bubbles of water-H20 (not Hπ0). The bubbles are beautiful little spheres. I wonder how many bubbles I am looking at stretching miles astern." I began to make calculations of how many bubbles there were per cubic foot of water. I began to dfind that in calculating the ship's white wake I was dealing in quintilions to the fourth power times quintilions to the fourth power or some such fantastically absurd number of bubbles. And nature was making those bubbles in sublimely swift ease! Any time one looks carefully at a bubble, one is impressed with the beauty of its structure, its beautiful sphericity glinting with the colors of the spectrum. It is ephemeral-elegantly conceived, beautifully manufactured and readily broken.
Inasmuch as the kind of mathematics I had learned of in school required the use of the XYZ coordinate system and the necessity of employing π in calculating the spheres, I wondered, "to how many decimal places does nature carry out π before she decides the computation can't be concluded? Next I wondered, "to how many arbitrary decimal places does nature carry out the trancendental irrational before she decides to say it's a bad job and call it off? If nature uses π she has to do what we call fudging of her design which means improvising, compromisingly. I thought sympathetically of nature's having to make all those myriad frustrating decisions each time she made a bubble. I didn't see how she managed to formulate the wake of every ship while managing the rest of the universe if she had to make all those decisions. So I said to myself, "I don't think nature uses π. I think she has some other mathematical way of coordinating her undertakings."