In their latest video, Gavin and Dan of The Slow Mo Guys demonstrate what giant bubbles look like in high-speed video from birth to death. Surface tension, which arises from the imbalance of intermolecular forces across the soapy-water/air interface, is the driving force for bubbles. As they move the wand, cylindrical sheets of bubble film form. These bubble tubes undulate in part because of the motion of air around them. In a cylindrical form, surface tension cannot really counteract these undulations. Instead it drives the film toward break-up into multiple spherical bubbles. You can see examples of that early in the video. The second half of the video shows the deaths of these large bubble tubes when they don’t manage to pinch off into bubbles. The soap film tears away from the wand and the destructive front propagates down the tube, tearing the film into fluid ligaments and tiny droplets (most of which are not visible in the video). Instead it looks almost as if a giant eraser is removing the outer bubble tube, which is a pretty awesome effect. (Video credit: The Slow Mo Guys)
Though seemingly instantaneous to the naked eye, the bursting of a soap bubble is fascinating when slowed down. Here it is at about 2200 frames per second. Initially, the bubble is approximately spherical - its shape determined by a balance between surface tension, gravity, and pressure. The prick of a pinpoint disrupts the balance, and surface tension pulls the thin film away from the defect. The liquid sheet of the bubble retracts swiftly into a filament of fluid and a cloud of tiny droplets. (Video credit: soapbubble.dk)
A bullet passes through a soap bubble in the schlieren photo above. The schlieren optical technique is sensitive to changes in the refractive index and, since a fluid’s refractive index changes with density, permits the visualization of shock waves. A strong curved bow shock is visible in front of the bullet as well as weaker lines marking additional shocks waves around the bullet. Impressively, the bullet’s passage is so fast (and the photo’s timing so perfect) that there are no imperfections or signs of bursting in the soap bubble. The photo’s caption suggests that the bubble may be filled with multiple gases. If they are unmixed and of differing densities, this may be the source of the speckling and plume-like structures inside the bubble. Incidentally, if anyone out there has high-speed schlieren video of a bullet passing through a soap bubble, I would love to see it. (Photo credit: H. Edgerton and K. Vandiver)
Originally posted: 24 Aug 2011 That soap bubbles burst in the blink of an eye is a pity considering how fascinating their disappearing act is. This photo set from photographer Richard Heeks captures the bubbles mid-burst. Once the bubble’s film is breached, surface tension rips the smooth film back like a broken balloon, causing the liquid that used to be part of the bubble to erupt into droplets. (Photo credit: Richard Heeks)
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Some soap films are capable of self-healing after a solid object passes through them, as shown in the video above. The behavior is primarily dependent on Weber number—a nondimensional ratio of the film’s inertia to its surface tension. Although demonstrated for positive curvature in the video, the same behavior is observed in negatively curved soap films as well. For a look at how the behavior varies with projectile velocity and size, check out this video. (Video credit: J. Bryson, BYU Splash Lab)
Accidental releases of combustible gases in unconfined spaces can be difficult to recreate in a laboratory environment. Here researchers simulate the conditions using detonation inside a soap film bubble. Combustible gases are pumped inside the soap film and then a spark creates ignition. The resulting flame propagation is visualized using high-speed schlieren photography, making the density gradients in the flame visible. When the mixture of hydrogen fuel to air is balanced, the flame is spherically symmetric with a high flame speed. In contrast, weaker mixtures of fuel/air produce slow flame speeds and mushroom-like flames that leave behind unreacted fuel. This is due to buoyant effects; the time scale associated with buoyancy is smaller than that of the flame speed and chemical reactions when the fuel/air mixture is lean. (Video credit: L. Leblanc et al.)
This high-speed video shows a soap bubble being blown via didgeridoo, a wind instrument developed by the Indigenous Australians. The oscillations of the capillary waves on the surface of the bubble vary with the frequency of note being played. High frequency notes excite small wavelengths, whereas lower notes create large wavelength oscillations. For more fun, check out what you can do with didgeridoos in space. (submitted by Christopher B)
To the human eye, the burst of a soap bubble appears complete and instantaneous, but high-speed video reveals the directionality of the process. Surface tension is responsible for the spherical shape of the bubble, and, when the bubble is pierced, surface tension is broken, causing the soap film that was the bubble to contract like elastic that’s been stretched and released. Droplets of liquid fly out from the edges of the sheet until it atomizes completely.