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Phys Rev Lett. 2006 Oct 6;97(14):144503. Epub 2006 Oct 3.

Breakup of air bubbles in water: memory and breakdown of cylindrical symmetry.

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James Franck Institute, University of Chicago, 929 East 57th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


Using high-speed video, we have studied air bubbles detaching from an underwater nozzle. As a bubble distorts, it forms a thin neck which develops a singular shape as it pinches off. As in other singularities, the minimum neck radius scales with the time until the breakup. However, because the air-water interfacial tension does not drive the breakup, even small initial cylindrical asymmetries are preserved throughout the collapse. This novel, nonuniversal singularity retains a memory of the nozzle shape, size, and tilt angle. In the last stages, the air appears to tear instead of pinch.

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