Yesterday evening our friend and slightly-crazy-inventor Dan Roberts came round to help me with some bits on the van. It turned out we didn’t have quite the right bits and I was feeling slightly bad that I’d dragged Dan over for no real purpose. “It’s ok” says Dan “I’ve got something we can do that might mean its not a wasted trip”. Assuming he needed a hand with something, possibly requiring use of a computer, I was happy to help out. It turns out that he actually wanted to show us his bubbluminator (as I have just named it). It had to be set up in the dark, ideally outside, so we cleared some space around the patio table and set it up.
It’s a fairly simple box with a light bulb inside and a plastic dish on top. You add bubble mix to the top and blow a bubble with the straw then sit and watch (ideally from below the height of the bubble).
The results were simply amazing. The bubble goes through a “lifecycle” the basic structure of which appears to be fairly typical, though each one is unique. I’ve posted some pictures below and more (and higher quality.) on Flickr, plus you can watch a 5 minute video of some of the clips I recorded strung together.
Not content to be mere spectators we also did some experimentation along the way and discussed what scientific principles might be involved along the way. We brought out a full-spectrum light box from the loft and tried that with a new bubble. It definitely made a difference, with more vivid colours. Jonathan also managed to make some amazing patterns by blowing bubbles inside the main bubble, while Rebekah used the opportunity to experiment with her photography.
It wasn’t the evening of apple bottling and laptop working we had planned, but being friends with Dan invariable means things take an unexpected direction with surprising frequency.
The two pictures above show the bubble just after being blown, with some interesting stripy effects. It then moves into brighter colour bands as shown below.
Towards the end it fades into a wispy black and white, looking a bit like a snowglobe. This stage happens just before it pops.
You can see more of the variation (there is lots!) on the video.