Art

Impressionist Foams

Imagine taking two panes of glass and setting them in a frame with a small gap between them. Then partially fill the gap with a mixture of dye, glycerol, water, and soap. After turning the frame over several times, the half of the frame will be filled with foamy bubbles. When you flip it again, the dyed glycerol-water will sink and penetrate the bubble layer, creating complex and beautiful patterns as it mixes. Some of the bubbles may get squeezed together until they coalesce into larger bubbles that shoot upward thanks to their increased buoyancy. Other smaller bubbles will wend their way upward as neighboring fluid shifts. If you examine the tracks left by individual bubbles, you can find patterns reminiscent of Impressionist paintings, as seen at the end of this Gallery of Fluid Motion video. (Image credit: A. Al Brahim et al., source)

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