Japanese Astronaut Blows Colorful Bubbles in Space
Posted on April 24, 2010
We recently spoke about Naoko Yamazaki, 39, a Japanese astronaut who blasted off into space adorned in a colorful outfit courtesy of Tae Ashida. It’s been less than two weeks, but Yamazaki is back in the news again, as she has just solved the world’s oldest puzzle regarding soap bubbles and their color.
Soap bubbles are colorless spheres of thin filmy soap enjoyed by adults and children all across the world. Although they may appear full of colors, soap bubbles are in fact almost always colorless, save for a few droplets scattered across the bottom—assuming you use some sort of colored dye.
Two years ago, Yamazaki’s daughter Yuki, 7, discovered this fact on her own while trying to use colored soap water to create colored soap bubbles for a kindergarten project. According to the Mainichi Daily News, Yuki thought, “It may be possible to make colored soap bubbles in zero gravity,” leading her to then ask her mother to try the experiment while in space.
Yamazaki, who has already been busy engaging in various other experiments, such as making sushi in a kimono and playing a harp, gladly accepted Yuki’s challenge and conducted the experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) last Wednesday, April 14.
The Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency reported that Yamazaki “mixed red tropical fruit juice with soap and blew shiny red bubbles,” thereby proving her brilliant daughter’s hypothesis correct, as well as prompting Yuki, who watched the experiment via a video phone, to exclaim, “It’s red! Wow!”
The experiment was successful because the lack of gravity allowed the color pigments to evenly spread throughout the bubble, thereby giving it color.