Saturday, January 17, 2009

Frozen Bubbles at -16° (Yes, Below Zero)

The weather we've had here recently has been a tad cool. As in 20 below lows, highs around 3 below, and a wind chill of 40 below! In fact, the news says it's colder than they've seen in over a decade. So, my friend Mindy told me I had to take pictures of soap bubbles freezing. The instant I read her message I jumped right up to try. I let Avery go out with me that first time since I knew I would only be a few minutes and it was in the afternoon, at the warmest time of the day (a whole zero degrees!) But I wasn't quite happy with that first attempt. They froze without any problem, but they just didn't last long, they would pop - or rather crumple or shatter at the slightest. I knew it would be much colder the following morning, so I tried again as soon as I felt I had enough light on my north facing porch (it was windy, I need some shelter for the bubbles to not blow away too soon).

The bubbles proved to be much more durable at -16°. (I did NOT let Avery go out with me that time. The boys watched from the window.) Since the bubbles are blown with air obviously hotter than the outside, they like to implode. I think the colder air must make them freeze that much faster allowing them to be stronger against imploding - instead they just start to look like a balloon that doesn't have enough air keep the walls smooth, and often they crack under that pressure. What I wouldn't have given for a bubble machine!

The bubbles had a beautiful crystalline pattern. You can click on all the pictures to enlarge a little.

Here's a few pictures from my first attempt at 0°.

A tiny bubble that stuck to my snow pants:

It doesn't take long for the soap in the wand to freeze!

A crumpled bubble:

You know how blowing bubbles is a messy affair? Not in sub-zero weather!
It freezes right away and when you come inside it wipes off easily!

Yesterday morning's pictures (and a video) at -16°.

One more wand shot:

A bubble that smashed against my leg:

This large bubble adhered to the porch, which kept the wind from blowing it away...

...until the wind got too much for it and shattered it:

Here's a smaller bubble that actually stayed whole (no cracks) and it was just rolling around on the porch like a ball. The wind cooperated long enough to get some pictures:

Here's a closer shot:

And finally, since that little bubble was still there, I decided to take a video of me cracking it because it gives a better idea of what the frozen bubbles were like:

I was only out there for 11 minutes when I had to come in. My fingers were killing me! I had to wear gloves light enough to work the camera, and the news must not be joking when they say frostbite can happen in 10 to 15 minutes without proper attire in that weather! I can't imagine how long I would have lasted if I hadn't worn any gloves!

It gives me new appreciation for Travis. Last winter our car had to have a serious problem fixed. It took Travis 3 hours out in the garage when it was only 3° out!

Thanks Mindy for sharing such an awesome project with me! I wonder if I'll ever see temperatures that low again in my life with this being our last winter here, so I'm super grateful I got the chance to try that!


Mindy said...

I'm glad you tried it! If it wasn't so cold, it might be more fun. :)

Jessica said...

Laurie, that is amazing! What great photos you got! I'm so glad you documented the occasion. I think I'll have to try that sometime. Although, I'm not hoping for that cold weather again.

Laura Marriott said...

Cool! I feel like I've done it now after this post and clearly don't have to try it myself. Thanks!

Pam Emmons said...

I am so going to try this!

Aaron and Kristel said...

Wow, they did turned out awesome! great pics!