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Can you blow bubbles in outer space?

Bubbles are pretty neat, aren't they? You can blow bubbles from a special little wand and watch them float around in the air until... *POP* ...they're gone! What happened?

Well, a bubble is a lot like a balloon. When you blow into a balloon, you are filling it with air. Air is a lot like a pack of football players. Football players like to push their way to a touchdown. Air isn't going for a touchdown, but it is trying to get some space. Let's give this air from your breath a team name...the Wooshers.

The Wooshers push on the skin of the balloon and make it get bigger. It seems to take a lot of air to blow up a balloon, doesn't it? You blow and blow, but it takes forever to make the balloon big. That's because air outside of the balloon (let's call them The Wheezers ) is trying to push in the balloon! There is kind of a "pushing war" going on between the Wooshers and the the Wheezers. The Wooshers want to get into the Wheezers' space and the Wheezers want to get into the Wooshers' space! Just like a football game, huh?

The same thing happens with a bubble. The air inside the bubble is pushing the bubble's soapy film out, and the air outside the bubble is trying to push it in! Eventually, the pushing war ends up in a tie. Neither the Wooshers nor the Wheezers win. The bubble becomes fully formed and starts to float.

So, what makes the bubble pop? As the bubble floats, the bubble tries to keep the two teams in a tie. But both teams still want extra space! Now the Whooshers are pretty strong because they came from your mouth. Because your mouth is nice and warm, the Wooshers have a lot of energy. The Wheezers, on the other hand, aren't quite as warm. You see, the Wheezers live in the atmosphere. The atmosphere has a strange heating system. Near the Earth's surface, the atmosphere is warm. So a lot of Wheezers stay there to keep cozy. But the farther away you get from the surface, the colder the atmosphere gets. Only a few Wheezers are brave enough to stay in the cold.

So as the bubble starts to rise, the Wooshers start winning the pushing war. Since there aren't as many Wheezers in the cold upper atmosphere, the Wooshers are able to push the bubble hard enough to make it *POP*!

In space, there aren't any Wheezers because there isn't any air. So the Wooshers in your mouth have nobody to play against. If the Wooshers have no one to play with then why even bother making a bubble? So you can't blow bubbles in space. But you can here, so happy bubble-blowing!

Submitted by Will (Kentucky, USA )
(Novemer 3, 1997)

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