a dream realized!

so way back in 2005, i stumbled across the website for ZUBBLES!! the most ingenious reimagined toy concept EVER: colored bubbles! but back then it was only an idea, no company had picked it up because the inventors Tim Kehoe and Ram Sabnis hadn’t been able to stream line production yet. but NOW, TODAY! you can pre-order blue or pink ones!!!!!!!!!
the science behind these things is pretty exciting and innovative actually, because Kehoe and Sabnis ended up inventing a kind of dye molecule that DISAPPEARS when exposed to air, water or friction (for instance, when a bubble pops). ive seen this technology in action with Boudicca’s Wode perfume…

“When Wode is sprayed a vibrant cobalt blue mist appears and settles on the skin or clothing. Whether touched or not the ‘Wode Paint’ begins to fade and within seconds or minutes disappears completely leaving simply the scent behind.”

here are some interesting tidbits about Zubbles from an extensive article found (ironically) on the pop science website:

*when Tim Kehoe came up with the idea to make colored bubbles, he went to the grocery store and bought hundreds of intensely colored items…

“I started with Jell-O, because I thought, ‘Well, it’s got pretty intense color.’ So I mixed Jell-O and Ivory soap. I got nothing.” Undeterred, he went back to the store and tried food coloring and Kool Aid. Then hair dye. Then ink. When he realized that the answer probably couldn’t be found on a store shelf, he started studying patents and reading about surfactants. (surfactants = a material found mainly in soaps that interacts with water to reduce surface tension therefore allowing for bubbles to form) A bubble wall is mostly water held in place by two layers of surfactant molecules, spaced just millionths of an inch apart. If you add, say, food coloring to the bubble solution, the heavy dye molecules float freely in the water, bonding to neither the water nor the surfactants, and cascade almost immediately down the sides. You’ll have a clear bubble with a dot of color at the bottom. What you need is a dye that attaches to the surfactant molecules and disperses evenly in that water layer.


*so Tim studied surfactants and dye patents and would order chemicals in order to try mixing up the colored bubble solution in his own kitchen…

Once he tried nitric acid, a toxic chemical that gives off red fumes at room temperature. “I got it making a really cool bubble, but it could’ve killed somebody,” he recalls. “It ate through clothes.” Another one exploded with a loud bang. Another gave him chemical burns when it popped. The best one bounced, just like a Super Ball. He thought he could have sold that one, but he couldn’t re-create it. He could rarely re-create any of his experiments. “I never wrote anything down,” he says. “I’d get too excited as I was doing it. But once I lost that bouncing bubble, I was crushed. I started videotaping myself.”

*Tim eventually invented a process of mixing the dye with the surfactant that caused the two to bond so that bubble held a uniform color. the problem was that once the bubble popped, the dye would separate from the solution and create a huge stain. after more experiments, Tim was able to make the color washable, but this wasnt good enough. in order to make the product sellable, Tim needed to make the color of the bubble dissapear on its own.

*Tim found and hired chemist Ram Sabnis to help him synthesize the right kind of dye, one that…

“would bond to the surfactants in a bubble to give it bright, vivid color but would also lose its color with friction, water or exposure to air-not fade, not transfer to something else, but go away completely.” Sabnis’s solution was to build a dye molecule from an unstable base structure called a lactone ring that functions much like a box. When the ring is open, the molecule absorbs all visible light save for one color-the color of the bubble. But add air, water or pressure, and the box closes, changing the molecule’s structure so that it lets visible light pass straight through. Sabnis builds each hue by adding different chemical groups onto this base.

this stuff is crazy!
science = interesting
bubbles = fun
colors = super happy fun time/hurray!


One response to “a dream realized!

  1. disappearing ink?

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