Two UC Berkeley researchers have now described mathematically the successive stages in the complex evolution and disappearance of foamy bubbles (the images above are based off of a computer-generated video that uses their equations).
What purpose does this serve (besides making for some very mesmerizing GIFS…)? The work has applications in industrial processes for making metal and plastic foams (like those used to cushion bicycle helmets) and in modeling growing cell clusters, which rely on these types of equations.
The problem with describing foams mathematically has been that the evolution of a bubble cluster a few inches across depends on what’s happening in the extremely thin walls of each bubble, which are thinner than a human hair.
(Also some very cool research on bubble dynamics)