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A whole new world: Photographer conjures magical snow globe from a soap bubble

By Jeff Spry

In order to brave the winter and keep your imagination warm, Mother Nature has a few tricks up her sleeve to help pass the time... such as conjuring up sparkling soap bubbles and watching them freeze into magical snow globes!

Heather Hinam, is a Canadian naturalist, artist, and photographer in chilly Winnipeg, Canada who went outside to perform this miraculous experiment for her Twitter audiences as the poor thermometer was barely registering a pulse.

"Cold, clear days with very little wind are great for freezing bubbles," she noted on her Tweet after likely hustling back inside. "This morning's -28 C had me out in the backyard with the good camera, the bubble solution and the tripod. Here's a frozen moment of zen for your afternoon."

As seen in the video below, Hinam employs a clear straw dipped in a soap and sugar solution to blow a simple bubble onto a snow-encrusted surface. While the bubble wiggles slightly, tiny slivers of ice begin to decorate the soapy membrane. These frosted patches expand and grow to form shimmering micro-continents of ice crystals that converge into each other to create a spectacular snow globe shining in the morning sun. 

So how is this effect accomplished? It's actually just basic science, but still striking nevertheless.

The phenomenon known as the “snow globe effect,” causes hundreds of tiny ice crystals to drift across a bubble’s surface. When bubbles appear in a freezing environment and plops onto on a cold surface, the bottom freezes first. That cold front expands while releasing latent heat into the bubble's liquid surface. 

This slightly raises the water temperature at the perimeter of the freeze and lets it flow toward the top of the bubble. When additional latent heat is released, that flow becomes greater. Pressure on the freezing front causes minuscule ice crystals to break off and slip across the surface, which then start to grow simultaneously, giving the illusion that there are solid icy sections forming at once.

Now wait until the temperatures plunge, bundle up, and test this minor miracle out for yourself! Here's her special recipe for success:

"100 mL of warm water, 17 mL of dish soap, 17 mL of corn syrup, 1 tbsp of sugar. Mix together until sugar has dissolved and you're good to go. You just need a cold, calm day."

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