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The Magic of Bubbles

Do you remember the pure joy of blowing bubbles?

When you do it as a “grown Up”, it’s still cool, isn’t it?

Yep, sure is…

What if someone figured out a way to make colored bubbles? Not each bubble reflecting the colors of the rainbow – but actual colored bubbles?

Shimmering with all the colors of the rainbow, bubbles are a joy to children young and old. For inventor Tim Kehoe, however, creating a bubble with a single color that won’t stain when it pops has been a 15-year, $3-million obsession. Two weeks ago, the world’s first colored, non-staining bubbles, Zubbles, went on sale.

The simple chemistry of bubbles — two layers of soap sandwiching a layer of water about a millionth of an inch thick — has foiled virtually every attempt to modify them. Bubbles that last a little longer or can be blown a little bigger have since been created, but adding color, what some toy manufactures have called the “holy grail” of toys, has remained frustratingly elusive.

Standard food coloring or dyes have no effect; they simply run down the sides of the bubble, creating a drop of color on the bottom. Other dyes can stain bubbles, but when they pop they also stain clothes, dogs and eyes, as Kehoe discovered during one accident. Other tests, including one for a bubble dye that washed out, didn’t fare much better.

“I thought a washable bubble was a great idea,” said Kehoe. “But the kids (of a large focus group) were covered head to toe in red dye. It looked like a scene from Braveheart.”

Red Bubbles

Red Bubbles

Eventually Kehoe and his colleagues found the three different classes of dyes that produce intense, vibrant and uniform colors. Originally, it took three days to produce what would eventually become Zubbles, but now it takes about 30 minutes.

Once a bubble pops, the dye fades in 15 minutes on virtually every material imaginable: concrete, leather, nylon, cotton and paint. Even easily stained material like silk remain unstained 15 minutes after a Zubble touches them.

Right now, consumers can only buy blue and pink bubbles, although Kehoe says that he can create bubbles of any color.

Blue Bubbles

Blue Bubbles

Green Bubbles

Green Bubbles

I just think that they are so cool – Why not just do something a little fun and crazy – go blow some bubbles. Better yet – why not be the first on your block to blow some colored bubbles!

You can buy his colored bubbles, called Zubbles, at zubbles.com and through Tim Kehoe’s iPhone app.

And even if you’re not a bubble man, these things will blow your mind. Thanks to some seriously novel chemistry, the stain they appear to leave when they break vanishes in seconds. If only he could make pizza sauce do the same thing.

You can read more at the cool blog at Popular Science.

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