Phenomena

Bubble Tricks

[original media no longer available]

Everyone remembers playing with soap bubbles as a child, but most of us probably never became as adept with them as magician Denis Lock. In this video, Lock shows off some of the clever things one can do with surface tension and thin films. My favorite demo starts at 1:25, when he constructs a spinning vortex inside a bubble. He starts with one big bubble and adds a smaller, smoke-filled one beneath it. Then, using a straw, he blows off-center into the large bubble. This sets up some vorticity inside the bubble. When he breaks the film between the two bubbles, the smoke mixes into the already-swirling air in the larger bubble. Then he pokes a hole in the top of the bubble. Air starts rushing out the deflating bubble. As the air flows toward the center of the bubble, it spins faster because of the conservation of angular momentum and a miniature vortex takes shape.  (Video credit: D. Lock/Tonight at the London Palladium/ via J. Hertzberg)

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