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Patch Editor Braves the Cold in the Name of Science

Will bubbles really freeze into nature's art? I ventured outdoors Monday to find out.

An intact bubble rests beside the frozen remnants of a popped bubble.
An intact bubble rests beside the frozen remnants of a popped bubble.

Stay inside. That’s what everyone is advising that we do for our own safety, as temperatures remain well below zero.

It’s great advice, and I firmly intended to follow it. But when fascinating outdoor weather experiments began popping up all over the Internet, even I, the one who carries a sweatshirt in the summer months, was drawn to the door.

I came across these amazing photos of frozen bubbles the other day, and thought it would be fun to create them on my own.

And when one of my colleagues shared this video that demonstrates what happens when a cup of boiling water is thrown into the frigid air, I could resist no longer. 

Knowing myself as well as I do, I decided to avoid the chance of giving myself third-degree burns by trying something a little safer. I went for the bubbles and then ventured out onto the tundra.

OK, so it was actually my driveway. The part that’s five steps from my front door. But it was 11 degrees below zero, so I prepared for the journey by donning two pairs of socks, my fleece-lined boots, my hooded down coat, a scarf and thick gloves.

Bubbles in one hand, camera in the other, I was ready for the expedition. 

At first I blew a few bubbles at a time and watched them pop, land or float away intact. Some of the frozen bubbles collapsed in the air, and they looked like pieces of crumbled cellophane blowing in the wind. Those were pretty cool.

But I really, really, wanted my bubbles to look like these, so I kept trying. 

I began to fill the air with hundreds bubbles, wondering if any neighbors were watching my show.

Again, some of my bubbles popped, but most were carried upward by the wind. Some, however, safely landed on the ground. I watched and waited. They did not turn into beautiful masterpieces. They simply looked like bubbles.

My greatest success was when some of those bubbles popped, leaving frozen remnants behind. The one pictured here on the blanket of snow resembled a flower.

After a few minutes, I could handle neither the cold nor the feeling of failure no longer. I headed in, and thought briefly about trying that hot water experiment after all.

I microwaved some water.

And then I added chocolate and settled down with my cup of hot cocoa.

If you try this experiment and have better luck than I did, share your photos on Patch!

Angela Sykora (Editor) January 06, 2014 at 05:01 PM
You are very creative, and very brave, Cristel!
Louis Friend January 06, 2014 at 05:31 PM
I posted a picture of my attempt. http://buffalogrove.patch.com/blogs/buffalo-grove-photos
Cristel Mohrman (Editor) January 06, 2014 at 05:32 PM
Wow, you've got the touch! Thanks for posting these!
Louis Friend January 06, 2014 at 06:08 PM
No problem Cristel! Have you tried tossing boiling water off of a second floor balcony?
Cristel Mohrman (Editor) January 06, 2014 at 06:16 PM
No, but that's a good idea!

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