SoapBubbles shows interference effects in soap films lit by three randomly positioned red, green and blue light sources.

Rays reflected from the back and front surfaces of the film have different optical path lengths, and also experience different phase shifts on reflection, leading to an overall phase difference that depends on the angle of reflection and the wavelength of the light. A film of uniform thickness will display alternating bright and dark fringes in monochromatic light as the two rays shift in and out of phase; the pattern here is slightly more complicated, because the thickness of each bubble varies from place to place (and changes over time), oscillating with a mixture of spherical harmonics.

Click on the applet to pause or redraw.

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Applets Gallery / SoapBubbles / created Tuesday, 15 February 2000
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Copyright © Greg Egan, 2000. All rights reserved.