The Sound of Bubbles

Bubbles upon the wall of a wine glass

When you enjoy the sound of a babbling stream on a hike, what you’re actually hearing is bubbling. Air bubbles caught in the water resonate at a frequency that depends on their size. In fact, you can use a hydrophone – basically an underwater microphone – to listen to these bubbles and learn about them. Researchers recently did exactly that with glasses of sparkling wine. By listening to the bubbles and applying a simple physical model, the researchers could characterize differences in two brands of sparkling wine, including just how bubbly they were and what size their typical bubbles are. They hope eventually to develop acoustic techniques that can monitor quality control for sparkling wines and other carbonated beverages. (Image credit: J. Kääriäinen; research credit: K. Spratt et al.; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

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