The unexpected beauty of how bubbles freeze

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The unexpected beauty of how bubbles freeze


  Last updated November 22, 2019 at 1:07 pm


Under the right conditions, soap bubbles freeze in a way that turns them, temporarily, into tiny, beautiful snow-domes.

Why This Matters: If we can work out how to freeze soap bubbles, what else could we freeze?

It turns out that under the right conditions, soap bubbles freeze into beautiful little snow domes.

This revelation was discovered by researchers led by biomechanical engineer Jonathan Boreyko from Virginia Tech in the US as they probed the physics of freezing.

Also: Bubbles! The physics of champagne

What the scientists found was that the way soap bubbles froze was determined by the temperature of the air surrounding them.

When bubbles resting on a cold substrate were surrounded by equally cold air, they started to freeze from the bottom. However during the early stage of this process, ice crystals formed, detached from the freeze-front and floated around in the remaining liquid, evoking a snow-dome.

After a while the number of crystals reached a point at which they were in contact with each other. At that point they locked together, forming a matrix, resulting in the entire bubble solidifying.

Teach This: Soap bubbles form natural snow domes

In cases where the surrounding air was warmer than the cold surface on which the bubble rested, the freezing process was different and the results much less pretty. Again, freezing started from the bottom and continued upwards until convection forces became too weak, leading to a halt about halfway up.

But this time there was no snow-dome. Instead, the half-frozen bubbles remained for a few moments, before collapsing.

Read the original article on Cosmos. 

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