Tag Archive for: interference

Tinkering Thursday: 18th December, a tale of two wave types

A simple Tinkering Thursday this week as we start to – let’s be honest – tidy the office so it’s not quite such a heap when we return in early January. Carol produced a lovely little ripple tank which had apparently been in one of the many cardboard boxes strewn around the office, and we proceeded to set it up.

Joe and Carol set up our new ripple tank

Joe and Carol set up our new ripple tank

We’ve more testing to do with different depths of water, but we managed to get some pretty decent-looking wave patterns and interference effects, as you can see at the top of the post (click the image to expand it). It’s a nice piece of kit, and we look forward to playing with it experimenting further.

I outsourced my tinkering for the week, taking my car to the garage to treat it to a new wheel bearing for Christmas. This post is late because I had to run out of the office early to collect it, which you really don’t need to know but hey, human detail and open communication are the keys to being approachable. I’m sure I read that somewhere.

Joe, meanwhile, had a busy afternoon. Yes, that’s our camera strap around his head to hold his normal desk phone in place so he can continue to monitor a conference call on mute, whilst talking on his mobile. Who needs a bluetooth earpiece?

Joe goes hands-free so he can operate a second phone for multi-tasking conversations.

Joe goes hands-free so he can operate a second phone for multi-tasking conversations.

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?

Tag Archive for: interference


Careful measurements and some lateral thinking in this comparison of double slit and diffraction grating approaches to determining the wavelength of laser light.

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.