The temperature plunged to 15 below zero Fahrenheit (-26C) yesterday morning. Here at GJ Laboratories, we wondered what happens to soap bubbles in such extreme subfreezing temperatures.
Before reporting to you on the results of the experiment, let’s see if you can guess which of the following phenomena actually happened:
1. WARM RISERS. The warm air from my breath made the bubbles rise upward to the height of the treetops. Some drifted out of sight and others popped as they touched the branches.
2. MILKY SPHERES. The bubbles turned opaque after about five seconds and froze into delicate white ice spheres. They drifted gradually downward, cracking or breaking silently when they touched the snowy ground.
3. NO DIFFERENCE. There was no observable difference from the behavior of bubbles at subzero and normal temperatures.
4. “PLASTIC” SHREDS. The bubbles floated for a while and then popped, but they popped in slow motion, turning into droopy sacs or ashen wisps like shredded plastic bags, rather than a spray of droplets.
5. CRYSTAL GLOBES. Most of the bubbles popped right away, but a few froze hard and clear with a pattern of frostwork forming from the top down. They stayed in that state for about 30 seconds. After that, the sunlight made the ice sublimate, opening up a hole on the top half of each bubble. The bottom half fell like a cup and dissoved into vapor before it could hit the ground.
Please vote in the poll at left to choose the true answer and explain your thinking in the comments. I'll give the answer on Wednesday, Jan 21. If any Canadians or Scandinavians want to come up with your own experimental results, I will post the best photos or YouTube videos.