What is UP with the soap bubbles?

On our commute in to work this morning, Grant and I got caught in the worst of the precipitation. Like, buckets of rain that we had to splash our way through, accented by lightning and dangerous idiots who don’t put their headlights on.

But I noticed a really weird phenomenon – as soon as we got over the bridge, the road started to be covered in what looked like soap bubbles. Each wave of water had a little seafoam-like suds on it. It even continued off the freeway – in Grant’s parking lot when I dropped him off, my tires left bubble-tracks in the water. Now what the heck is up with that?

I’ve never seen soapy rain-water before, to my knowledge. Is it an exclusively Eastside thing that I’d never noticed? Do people on the Eastside just wash their fancy cars more, contributing to a massive buildup of Turtle Wax? Do all the Hummers tooling around Sammamish contribute so much to the overall polluting emissions that they wind up poisoning the rain with some sort of freak surfactant? Is there some other plausible scientific explanation that I’m missing?

Man, it makes me wish Bill Nye the Science Guy was still on; I bet you’d get a good explanation outta that dude. Or not. I’m about two steps away from emailing my middle school science teacher to ask his opinion. In his class, we habitually poured hydrochloric acid over a beaker of zinc chips, funneled the hydrogen into a balloon, tied the balloon to the end of a broomstick, and exploded it loudly over a Bunson burner flame to wake people up. We also created a giant chunk of sodium, placed it in a puddle, backed up far away, and threw in a rock to cause the water to splash over the sodium, causing the entire puddle to blow up and totally freak out the eight graders playing basketball outside right next to us. And this is to say nothing of when we played with liquid mercury by floating pennies and lead fishing weights in it (safely, in a container so it couldn’t poison us, but still) and having dry ice air-hockey tournaments and pouring the CO2 over Zippo lighters to prove that they could, in fact, be extinguished, and cranking us full of a few amperes to see what a shock felt like, with a device he’d created out of a pencil sharpener and a few loose wires. Oh, and poking at the innards of a deer he’d hunted and autopsied so we’d be able to see what its organs looked like. So not only was Mr. Olson approachable, but he’d probably have a really fun and possibly slightly creepy or dangerous way to figure out an explanation. Man, those were the days.

Anyway, science. Bubbles. Anyone have a plausible theory? Could it possibly involve us blowing something up?

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