Many chemical engineers will be familiar with bubbles and foams. They are used widely in foods, drinks, cosmetics, cleaning products… just to name a few.
The benefits of bubbles in products like these are generally self-evident, but, remarkably, they are also being used to help us understand how the very first living cells on Earth might have survived billions of years ago.
If this wasn’t significant enough, the ability of some bubbles to sense their environment to deliver drugs to the right place is being developed at the University of California – Davis (UC Davis), US, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
The video above demonstrates how tiny, soapy bubbles can reorganize their membranes to let material flow in and out in response to the surrounding environment. Billions of years ago, such emergent behavior could have allowed the earliest living cells to adapt to changing environmental conditions.