Bullet Through a Bubble

A bullet passes through a soap bubble in the schlieren photo above. The schlieren optical technique is sensitive to changes in the refractive index and, since a fluid’s refractive index changes with density, permits the visualization of shock waves. A strong curved bow shock is visible in front of the bullet as well as weaker lines marking additional shocks waves around the bullet. Impressively, the bullet’s passage is so fast (and the photo’s timing so perfect) that there are no imperfections or signs of bursting in the soap bubble. The photo’s caption suggests that the bubble may be filled with multiple gases. If they are unmixed and of differing densities, this may be the source of the speckling and plume-like structures inside the bubble. Incidentally, if anyone out there has high-speed schlieren video of a bullet passing through a soap bubble, I would love to see it. (Photo credit: H. Edgerton and K. Vandiver)

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