Why Are Bubbles So Colorful?

In this activity we'll examine this strange phenomenon and how we can experience it throughout nature. We'll also examine what thin slits do to light and how this phenomenon is similar to that of bubbles and oil slicks.

Materials

  • Liquid detergent or glycerin
  • A metal ring through which to blow bubbles
  • Two small glass slides

Directions

  1. Use the soap and ring to blow bubbles (preferably outside -- sunlight works best). What do you notice about the colors and patterns on the surface of the bubbles?
  2. Place one glass slide on top of the other and hold the two in fluorescent lighting. Do you see any colors or patterns coming from the two slides? If not, try separating the slides by a tiny amount.
  3. Are the colors and patterns from the slides similar to those on the bubbles? Think of how these two seemingly very different experiments can yield very similar phenomena.