Research

Ignition

Shown here are the first instants after a bubble full of methane gas is ignited via laser. Using the schlieren optical method and a high-speed camera, scientists recorded the deflagration at 10,000 frames per second. Because schlieren imaging is very sensitive to small changes in density, we see not only the expanding flame front as the methane ignites but also the subtle waviness of the methane expanding into the surrounding air as the bubble bursts. (For comparison, check out what bursting a water balloon looks like at high-speed.) Be sure to head over to ScienceTake for the full schlieren video, and also check out this award-winning video of a match lighting made by the same researcher.  (Image credit: V. Miller et. al.; full video: The New York Times; submitted by Rebecca M.)

ETA: An earlier version of this post mistakenly said the demo used a balloon full of methane rather than a bubble. Thanks to jump-first-think-later for the correction.

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