Physics simulation explains how foamy bubbles pop

Credit: Saye & Sethian/UC Berkeley/LBNL

UC Berkeley professor James A. Sethian and PhD student Robert I. Saye worked together on a study titled "Multiscale Modeling of Membrane Rearrangement, Drainage, and Rupture in Evolving Foams" that was recently published in the journal Science. It may sound fancy, and it kind of is — applied mathematics is complex stuff and their work was supported by the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation and National Cancer Institute — but their research dealt entirely with foamy bubbles.

Yep, we're talking about that delightfully frothy stuff you find in bubble baths and cappuccinos. Sethian and Saye were concerned with the way foamy bubble clusters pop and all the lovely physics that's involved. Not so intimidated now, are you?

It is a lot more complicated than the science behind a single bubble pop, though, and there are all sorts of practical applications for this knowledge. To demonstrate how foamy bubbles pop the team created a kick ass video simulation and explained it below:

"Liquid drains from the bubbles' thin walls until they rupture, after which the remaining bubbles rearrange, often destabilizing other bubbles, which subsequently pop. Note the sunset reflections [they show what a sunset would look like reflected in the bubbles]. The research could help in modeling industrial processes in which liquids mix or in the formation of solid foams such as those used to cushion bicycle helmets."

Scroll down for Sethian and Saye's bubble popping simulation.

YouTube, via io9

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