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Successive stages in evolution of soap bubbles

Snapshots from model showing membrane rearrangement, drainage and rupture in soap bubble cluster

Snapshots from a multiscale computational model of membrane rearrangement, drainage and rupture in a cluster of soap bubbles, shown using thin film interference, which produces rainbow hues like an oil slick on pavement.

Two mathematicians at the University of California, Berkeley, modeled the successive stages in the complex evolution and disappearance of bubbles, and produced a numerical framework that could help model industrial processes in which liquids mix or are in the formation of solid foams, such as those used to cushion bicycle helmets. By constructing and solving a set of equations that describe the multiscale dynamics of foams, James A. Sethian and Robert I. Saye computed the evolution of a collapsing soap bubble cluster where macroscopic gas dynamics are coupled to microscopic fluid flow inside the thin film membranes, leading to membrane rearrangement, drainage and rupture.

To learn more about this research, see the UC-Berkeley news story Heady mathematics: Describing popping bubbles in a foam. [Research supported by NSF grant DMS 07-13223.] (Date of Image: 2012-2013)

Credit: Robert Saye and James Sethian, UC-Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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