Inside a Bubble Wall

Schlieren photography has an almost magical feeling to it because it enables us to see the invisible – like shock waves and the tiny currents of heat that rise from our skin. But it can also reveal new perspectives on things that aren’t invisible. Here we see soap bubbles viewed through the lens of a schlieren set-up. Schlieren is sensitive to small changes in density, so instead of appearing in their usual rainbow iridescence, the bubbles look glass-like and filled with tiny currents and bubbles. What we’re seeing are some of the many tiny flow variations across the surface of a soap bubble. They’re driven by a combination of forces – gravity, temperature, and surface tension variations, to name a few. Seen in video, you can really appreciate just how dynamic a thin soap film is! (Image credit and submission: L. Gledhill, video version, more stills)

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