EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

May 12, 2013

Pinning down the physics of bubbles


So to describe the foam’s behavior, the researchers produced separate equations for the different aspects of foam dynamics. One set of equations governed how the walls of bubbles thin out and then break as liquid drains from their fragile skins.

Other equations focused on how liquid flows at the junctions between bubble membranes. Still more addressed how the spheres shuffle their positions within the foam as other bubbles burst, contorting to conserve surface area.

The pair also developed equations to describe the way a sunset would look when reflected in bubbles, its golden tones spread out into rippling hues like an oil slick.

When they were done writing their equations, they used them to create a video of a cluster of bubbles popping out of existence, one by one.

Separating out each layer of equations made the task slightly easier — though it still took five days for supercomputers at the Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center to churn through them and produce the simulation.

Taken together, the equations describe the dynamics of foam made up of hundreds of bubbles of various sizes, Saye and Sethian wrote in Science.

“It is just a first step along a road to understanding the kind of foams we find in industry, in chemical plants,” said Denis Weaire, a physicist with Trinity College in Ireland who was not involved in the work.

“Today the chemical engineer faced with designing such (a) plant must rely on extrapolation from experience, and guesswork,” Weaire said. “To do better we need realistic models. They could arise out of calculations like this.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
World/National News

Latest U.S. News
Obama Asks Central American Leaders for Help Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Obama Advisor Skips House Hearing Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase
Latest World News
Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Today in History for July 25th Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 U.N. School in Gaza Hit by Israeli Strike Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site
Photos of the Week