Steven Wang Williston Scholars

Steven Wang '20

Soap Bubbles and Balloons: What’s the Difference?

The Project: Soap Bubbles and Balloons: What’s the Difference?

The Scholar: Steven Wang ’20

What I Studied: At each point on the surface on the spherical bubble or balloon, the tension from all adjacent points can be summed up to a net force pointing radially inwards, causing the bubble or balloon to contract. For the bubble or balloon to maintain its current size, the internal air pressure must be higher than that of the atmosphere to counter this contracting force. The essential question then is: How does the pressure difference vary with the radius for bubbles and balloons?

What I Learned:┬áThe greatest difference between balloons and soap bubbles is that balloons are not homogeneous and therefore have a more complex pressure-radius relationship. However, the complexity of balloon’s behavior still exceeded my expectations.

What Surprised me about my Research: How loudly the balloons popped.