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Learn How Bubbles Work!

Bubbles manage to fascinate most of us, no matter which age group we belong to. Everything has a science involved behind it and bubbles are no exceptions. Let us unveil the secret behind how these fascinating transparent balls work...

Everyday Chemsitry - Learn How Bubbles Work!

Now you see them, now you don't! Bubbles exist for few minutes and then pop and disappear in thin air. As kids, most of us had a toy that helped us make bubbles. We were too young to realise then, but everything has some science behind it and bubbles are no exceptions!

What are bubbles?

You guessed it right; bubbles are just a thin film of soap. Transparent and delicate in nature, a mere touch of the finger is enough to break them. Most bubbles are filled with air and you can make them using gases like carbon dioxide. The film that makes bubbles is made of three layers. The first layer is a thin layer of water that is sandwiched between two layers of soap molecules. Each soap molecule is oriented in such a way that its polar or hydrophilic head faces the water. At the same time, its hydrophobic hydrocarbon tail is away from the water layer. No matter what shape a bubble has initially, it will eventually try to become a sphere.

Know what happens when bubbles meet?

Have you tried creating more than one bubble? Instead of stacking over each other, they merge walls in order to minimize their surface area. In case the two bubbles are of the same size, their walls that separate them will be flat. If the bubbles are of different sizes, then the smaller bubble will merge into the larger bubble to form one single large bubble. When bubbles meet, their walls merge to form the shape of hexagons. Here is a video that shows the process of bubble merging:

What is bubble solution made of?

You guessed it right; bubble solutions are made of soap. Soap's main ingredient is detergent and it helps form bubbles when it comes in contact with water. However, detergent also contains some ions that may prevent the bubbles from forming. Soaps contain a carboxylate group that reacts with calcium and magnesium ions, while detergents lack this functional group. This is why glycerin is usually added to the solution because it extends the life of a bubble by forming weak hydrogen bonds with water and also slows down its evaporation process.

So the next time you make bubbles, remember the science that is involved!

Tags :     Bubbles     Water     Glycerin     Hydrophilic     Soap     carbon dioxide    

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