A couple of days ago I read this web comic on the Internet. In the comic (for those of you who opted to not click the link), a kid blows a bubble in the freezing cold Saskatchewan winter, it freezes, falls to the ground and shatters.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I reasoned that freezing would not alter its mass or volume, so it shouldn’t fall to the ground and shatter. But if it were cold enough, it would have to freeze, right? Or maybe the warm air inside it (from the inflation process) would cause it to expand and burst?
Luckily, it was cold enough today to consider some experimentation (it was about 1 degree F outside). I found a two gallon jug of bubbles under the kitchen sink and hauled it out. I bet the kids didn’t even know those were there.
To avoid the hot lung-sourced air, I decided to try waving the wand first. I couldn’t make any bubbles that way. I don’t know if it was because of the cold or not. David wanted to give it a try, and he reasoned that if he inhaled a lot of cold air and blew it out before it warmed up too much, maybe that would work. And it kind of did. He blew several bubbles. Some floated across the yard and into the woods. I didn’t chase after them, but I never saw any fall out of the air and shatter. He got too cold and came back in. Then I went out and gave it a whirl.
On my first attempt, I dipped the wand in the solution, pulled it out, inhaled deeply, and then blew into an ice-coated bubble wand. I dipped it in again and gave it another go. I blew several bubbles, but the wind was blowing, and they all escaped.
Then the wind died. I blew several more. The first one I tried to catch with the wand popped immediately, but I kept trying. Then I caught one. I tried to set the wand down on top of the bubble jug, but as soon as I did, the bubble popped. I tried again, eventually catching another. I set it down, dashed in the house, and grabbed the camera.
By the time I got back outside, the bubble had frozen. I touched it to see if it was like glass. Nothing seemed to happen. It didn’t pop. I touched it again. When I pulled back, I saw that my finger had melted a hole in the side of the bubble.
If you look closely, you can see the hole.
That is, in every sense of the word, a very cool bubble.