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Decoded: Science behind soap bubbles

Researchers have decoded the science behind the popular childhood activity of blowing soap bubbles -- a finding that may help improve products like sprays and foams.

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Researchers have decoded the science behind the popular childhood activity of blowing soap bubbles -- a finding that may help improve products like sprays and foams. In a series of experiments replicating bubble blowing, researchers at New York University (NYU) discovered two ways in which bubbles can be made: one, by pushing with a steady but strong wind on a soap film through a circular wand, which causes it to grow into a bubble, and two, by pushing with a gentle wind on an already-inflated film in order to drive its further growth.

"This second method might explain how we often blow bubbles as kids: a quick puff bends the film outward and thereafter the film keeps growing even as the flow of air slows," said Leif Ristroph, assistant professor at NYU, who led the study. "This is used by the bubble blowers we see in parks in the summertime," said Ristroph. "They simply walk, sufficiently fast, it seems, with a soapy loop of rope, which provides the relative wind needed to stretch out the film," he said.

The results, published in the journal Physical Review Letters, point to potential applications in consumer products that contain bubbles or droplets, such as sprays, foams, and emulsions, which are combinations of unmixable liquids. As a physics problem, blowing bubbles is a question of how a liquid film -- typically soapy water -- interacts with an imposed flow of an external fluid, which is air in the case of bubble blowing.

This dynamic is crucial in understanding how to enhance industrial production of many chemical products. To break down the science that explains this process, the researchers created an experiment, replicating the blowing of bubbles, using oil films suspended in flowing water and pushed through a wire loop wand.

"Working with water instead of air has many advantages in terms of controlling, measuring, and seeing flows. This is the trick that made these experiments possible," Ristroph said. Their experimental observations, combined with predictions drawn from mathematical models, allowed the researchers to understand the forces that produced the resulting film shapes. The findings give a precise recipe or set of instructions for how to blow bubbles -- and with it, related production processes.

"We can now say exactly what wind speed is needed to push out the film and cause it to form a bubble, and how this speed depends on parameters like the size of the wand," said Ristroph.

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The love for flying starts at a time when most of us are young. It can start by simply getting excited whenever a plane flies overhead, or reading about them and developing more of an interest in aviation. The concept of flying ignites such a passion in some people that they want to pursue their dreams and become pilots. From there, it is only a matter of time before you start taking the first steps towards looking into a commercial airline pilot school and obtaining a pilot licence.

The road can be long and there are a lot of steps you need to take, so to give you a better insight, this guide is what an average pilot goes through before working for an airline.

Flight training usually begins with studying an RPL (Recreational Pilot Licence), which entails flight theory, learning the basic controls, simulation and aircraft training and the first live experience you will ever get in a cockpit. What follows depends on what you want to get out of flying, whether it is for pleasure or as a profession. The CPL (Commercial Pilot Licence) course is for students wanting to get paid for their flying services and the PPL (Private Pilot Licence) course is for students wanting to fly for fun.

Some airlines now offer cadetship roles that have no minimum hourly requirement, but it is still a good idea to gain a reasonable level of aviation experience and knowledge before applying. For standard entry into an airline pilot role, there are required flight hours and experience that need to be obtained before you can successfully pilot a big commercial airliner.

A good way to earn those hours and the necessary experience is by becoming a flight instructor. This way you get to sharpen and refresh your skills and at the same time you also get to impart valuable knowledge to a fellow enthusiast. It is also possible to obtain work as a charter pilot, and this can give you a great opportunity to travel and see some fantastic places in the country whilst gaining the needed experience and flight hours.

When you are at the required level to consider airline pilot jobs, it is highly advisable to enrol in an Airline Interview Coaching Session or a Cadet Pilot Interview Workshop. These give you an in-depth look at what airlines are looking for, giving you a huge advantage over other applicants in what can be a very competitive recruitment process. The topics the courses cover can include technical assessments, flight control systems training, the various stages of the airline interview process and much more.

Once you are selected by an airline, the job role and lifestyle is extremely rewarding. You will visit a lot of places all over the world and get to enjoy the sights and sounds of different countries. Almost anyone who has been an airline pilot would recommend it as a career in a heartbeat! When looking for a commercial airline pilot school, Learn to Fly has a range of courses designed for students looking to fly for fun or professionally. Browse their website for all the information you need to pick a course that is right for you today!

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