Dark spots in soap film grow and merge moments before bubble pops
Zoom in on a soap bubble just before it bursts and brilliant, complex patterns emerge. Shimmery rainbows appear in thicker portions of the soap film, while clusters of dark spots appear in the thinnest regions.
The thickness of the soap film determines the color seen. Light rays that reflect off of the top and bottom of the film combine to amplify particular wavelengths, an effect known as constructive interference. In thicker areas of the film, longer wavelength colors appear, producing a rainbow. Under gravity’s pull, the soap film flows, causing the patterns to shift over time until finally the bubble pops.
When the film becomes even thinner than the shortest wavelength of visible light, dark spots appear, due to destructive interference that cancels out light reflecting off the bubble’s surface. Over about a minute, those spots grow and merge,