Phenomena

Foam Array

Soap foams represent an interplay of gravitational, capillary, interfacial, and viscous forces, none of which is easily isolated in a laboratory experiment. This makes it difficult to sort out the various effects governing the foam since individual variables cannot be controlled independently. The image above is of a special foam, one in which the liquid phase has been replaced with a ferrofluid. This adds an additional parameter–external magnetic fields–to the problem, but, unlike the others, this is an independent variable. By manipulating the external magnetic field, researchers can control the foam’s drainage rate and even the structure it takes on. (Photo credit: E. Janiaud)

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