Soap Bubbles Might Be The Cyclone Predictors Of The Future

Nobody tell that fish from Finding Nemo.

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Isn’t it great that we live in an age where natural disasters can be tracked with science-y instruments and don’t just descend on us without warning like the whirling fists of an angry god? Of course, predictions of weather patterns could always be more exact, and researchers think they have just the tools for such an endeavor: soap bubbles.

Yup, you read that right. According to scientists at the Laboratoire Ondes et Matière d’Aquitaine (which is located at University of Bordeaux 1 in France), soap bubbles could be used to track the atmospheric flow of air around them, which could in turn be used to predict tropical cyclones and other low-pressure wind-shifting events.

As you might remember from blowing bubbles as a kid, the soap on a bubble’s surface isn’t completely static; instead it constantly moves and shifts around, creating different colors as it catches the light. You can check out what we’re talking about in the image above. See those streaky patterns that make the bubble look kind of like Jupiter? Under the right circumstances, those patterns will turn into little mini vortices that look not unlike hurricanes — or, if we’re keeping with the Jupiter theme, like the high-pressure storm that is the Great Red Spot.

bub

Image via Hamid Kellay, as seen in Nature Scientific Reports

A detailed study of these vortices led scientists to come up with a relationship model that accurately describes the intensity with which they form, evolve and dissipate over time. They then tested their relationship model on data from 150 different cyclones in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and found that their model worked for these low-pressure storms. Using this simple model, meteorologists might eventually be able to predict the strength of future tropical cyclones at an earlier and more accurate rates.

Unfortunately efforts to chart the progress of sharknados with bubbles have proved ineffective, possibly due to the unstable atmospheric flow that comes with a lot of gasping, air-chomping sharks getting hurled at great speeds out of the ocean, but also probably because sharknados aren’t real and are also quite stupid.

(via Phys.org, featured image via Reinhold Stansich on Flickr)

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