Why do bubbles pop, and why do bubbles have shadows? Dr. Bubbles is here to answer all the bubble questions we were bursting to ask! We’ll find out how a normal, everyman physicist named Justin Burton became a superhero bubble scientist, on a quest to make a scientifically proven recipe for giant bubbles. Along the way, we’ll discover the answers to our listeners’ bubbling curiosity.
Hear from the inventor of edible bubbles, Li Wei Tan, in a bonus interview episode available on our ad-free Patreon feed! It’s available for just $1/month when you pledge to support Tumble at patreon.com/tumblepodcast.
MEET DR. BUBBLES
Justin Burton is an associate professor of physics at Emory University who studies fluid dynamics or the movement of liquids and gasses. On a trip to Barcelona, Justin was mesmerized by street performers making giant bubbles. Not only were these bubbles super cool, they were also mysterious. “How did the performers make the soap stretch so far?,” he thought. What started as a fun inquiry for Dr. Bubbles proved to be fundamental science research. Along the way he has started to unlock the physics of bubbles, and began a quest for the perfect bubble formula.
TRY AT HOME: GIANT BUBBLE RECIPE
Here is Dr. Bubble’s Giant Bubble Recipe, courtesy of Emory University:
1 liter of water (about 2 pints)
50 milliliters of Dawn Professional Detergent, which is available online (a little over 3 tablespoons)
2-3 grams of guar powder (or guar gum), a food thickener sold in some grocery stores or available online (about 1/2 heaping teaspoon)
50 milliliters of rubbing alcohol (a little more than 3 tablespoons)
2 grams of baking powder (about 1/2 teaspoon)
Mix the guar powder with the alcohol and stir until there are no clumps. Combine the alcohol/guar slurry with the water and mix gently for 10 minutes. Let it sit for a bit so the guar hydrates. Then mix again. The water should thicken slightly, like thin soup or unset gelatin. Add the baking powder and stir. Add the Dawn Professional Detergent and stir gently, to avoid causing the mixture to foam. Dip a giant bubble wand with a fibrous string into the mixture until it is fully immersed and slowly pull the string out. Wave the wand slowly or blow on it and enjoy the physics of giant soap bubbles!
Warning: Results may vary based on humidity.