The Science of Bubble Colors
One of the most wonderful parts about blowing bubbles is seeing how they create magical colors in the light. As you take a deep breath in and blow through the wand, tiny rainbows spread across every bubble. How does this magical phenomenon happen? Well, if you take a closer look at what makes up a bubble then you will begin to understand why we see rainbows.
Bubbles are like balloons filled with air, but instead of being made out of latex, they’re made out of layers of soap and water. Picture the outside of the bubble like a water sandwich. The soap layers, which act like the bread, have a layer of water in between, which acts like the filling. The outside layer reflects light that comes through the bubble. Because the layers are not even, are constantly shifting as the air pressure moves within them, and light hits them at different angles, the rate that the light waves reflect back to your eye is also different. Some of these waves interfere with each other causing some to become brighter, or more intense, while others cancel each other out and disappear altogether. What is left, and what we actually see, are called “interference colors”, which happen to look like rainbows to our eyes.
As the soap and water layers move around, the colors move and change as well. You can visualize this part by thinking of the air as being a paintbrush and the bubble a canvas. The colors begin to change when air touches the bubble due to the pressure. Since the bubble is super thin, when there is too much air pressure on the bubble, it pops!
Cool, right? Now you know you don’t have to wait until the next rainy day to see a rainbow. Just grab a bottle of bubbles, step outside, and watch the magic happen!
We created an activity sheet showing the layers of a bubble, which you can download by clicking this link: Science of Bubble Download Sheet. Color in the parts that are water and the parts that are soap to discover how a bubble looks up close. We’d love to see your artwork when you are done!
LEAVE A COMMENT
NO COMMENTS YET