Why Did the Bubble Lose its Color?

Why Did the Bubble Lose its Color?

BY : Rhiannon Nevinczenko

Anything can be a lesson in physics - yes, even bubbles! 

If you have a bubble wand on hand, blow some bubbles, and notice the colors they reflect. Now, try catching one of the bubbles on the bubble wand without popping it, as demonstrated on the infographic. Does it still have its colors? Where did they go? You may also notice that bubbles lose their color gradually before popping on their own, even if nothing touches them. There is a scientific explanation for this! 

A soap bubble is made of layers. The membrane is basically a soap-water-soap sandwich with air inside. The membrane varies in thickness, and thus light waves bounce through and off of it differently at different parts of the bubble. For example, thicker parts of the membrane reflect blue, and thinner parts reflect magenta. This is what gives the bubble an iridescent look! When you catch the bubble with the wand again, it loses thickness, and therefore color. Likewise, the longer a bubble exists, the thinner it gets, thus losing color until it can no longer hold itself together anymore and...poof! 

Graphics, illustration, photography, and writing by R. L. Nevinczenko. 

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