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Tinkering Thursday: Soap Bubble Viewing

Joe observes soap bubbles on a prototype viewer

Prototype soap bubble viewer, with Joe for scale

We’ve been exploring a novel way of viewing the colour fringes created by curved soap films, with fairly dramatic results. This is a quick test time-lapse with only very minor processing – the camera really did see colours this dramatic.

In a week or two we’ll write up an activity based around this, but if you’re particularly keen you can probably work out how we’re doing this from the photo alongside.

You might like a hint: Melodi (£5).

We only had video lights to hand but standard desk lamps are fine, and if you stick your head where the camera is you should see a view as spectacular as the animation above. Or – quite likely – a place where bubble was until a fraction of a second earlier. So it goes.

…or perhaps you might like to try your hand blowing some giant soap bubbles?

Activity

Giant Bubbles

Everyone loves soap bubbles. Most of us really love them. Particularly when they’re huge hovering things, hanging in the air or floating gently away.

Making large bubbles is easier than you might think. People argue endlessly over different soap mixtures (they’re a classic subject of after-dinner arguments conversation for science communicators), but standard household washing-up liquid is almost as good as even the finest formulations. The real trick is in the way you blow bubbles, as this film will show you.

This is another film from the Royal Institution’s ExpeRimental series, all of which are worth checking out.

We’ve written up an entire page about bubbles, including a beautiful way of viewing soap film colours.