Bubble-ience. The Science Behind the Suds

Check out our Bubble-ience podcast. Click here to listen.

Who doesn’t like bubbles?

They are fun to blow, fun to float, and really fun to POP. But did you know there is a lot of fun science behind these soapy suds?

Let’s discover some “bubble-ience.”

Bubbles Are Superheroes?

Did you know bubbles have a dual personality, which makes them kind of like Mr-Bubble-Mask_2000x2000_b12770ca-de39-41b9-9ed2-4d7e6b7e5ba9_1024x1024superheroes?

You see, one end of a soap molecule is hydrophilic, (hy-druh-fil-ik), meaning it likes water. The other end is hydrophobic (hy-dro-pho-bik) which doesn’t like water.

When you pour liquid soap into water, the end that likes the water immediately attaches itself to the water. The other end that doesn’t like water needs to get away, so it looks for some grime to attach itself to.

With a little scrub from you, the bubbles can get in between the dirt particles, surround it and BLAM! The bubbles have saved the day leaving you with sparklingly clean dishes.

Bubbles Trouble? Always Round

41x1zN+LOQL._AC_SY400_Have you ever blown bubbles through a square or triangular wand? What shape did you get?

That’s right, round.

This is because soap molecules cling to each other in every direction. These molecules also become very elastic, so when you add air to them, they stretch like a balloon and try to hold onto the air. The sphere has the smallest surface area of all the shapes, so it is the easiest to form and trap the air in.

Bubble Color

Even though bubbles look clear, they can have a rainbow of colors.

Light acts like a wave. When light waves hit the ever-changing surface of a bubble, some waves are reflected, and we see them as colors.

Sunlight is best to see colors since sunlight is white light, and white light makes all colors possible. Watch for your bubble’s rainbow the next time you are outside making bubbles.

Top Five Bubble Dislikes

Like us, bubbles have things they dislike. Here are the top 5 things bubbles do not like.

Number 5 – Dryness

One of the biggest things bubbles do not like is dryness. For example, dry bubble making instruments like wands or straws, dry fabrics like polyester shirts, even your dry hair.

Number 4 – Dirt

Anything dirty is also a no-no to bubbles. Dust, salt or other air pollutants can quickly POP a bubble.

Number 3 – Heat

Bubbles can not stand the heat since they depend on moisture to keep their form.

Number 2 – Gravity

Gravity also takes its toll on bubbles as the liquid at the top of the bubble is slowly pulled down, weakening it.

And the number one dislike of bubbles?

Poking. It breaks them of course.

Bubble Wow!

Did you know?

The biggest free floating soap bubble recorded is in the Guinness World Book of Records. The bubble is 2.98 meters cubed. If this bubble were filled with water, it would hold 788 gallons and weigh 3.2 tonnes!

A bubble entertainer by the name of Eiffel Plasterer made a hobby of sealing bubbles in jars. One of his bubbles lasted almost a year before it popped.

So now that you know all the fun science that makes up a bubble, perhaps you’ll want to become a Bubble-izard, waving a newly fangled bubble wand? Or maybe a Bubble-ientist...or would that be Bubble-ologist?

Do you want to make your own bubbles? Check out this simple recipe using white sugar, Dawn dish detergent, and warm water.

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