Why Researchers Are Never Too Old to Play with Bubbles

Photo by silly_a1804

Ah, remember those days as a child when you got to run around the yard blowing soap bubbles?  Did you giggle while trying to catch them and watch as they floated away? Although there’s less running around, some kids never stopped playing with bubbles. Instead, they grew-up to become researchers who have the fun task of doing something useful with these balls of air.  They’ve named them microbubbles. These are literally tiny gas-filled bubbles, which are many times smaller than the width of a hair.  
So what can something so minuscule do?  It can help us see the insides of our bodies better.  It’s true. Letting these little bubbles float through the bloodstream gives doctors a better image of your organs when they do an ultrasound – think high-definition TV versus analog. This is because a bubble’s shell bounces back the sound waves from an ultrasound differently than our organs do. By looking at the images, medical professionals can check whether or not your heart is pumping blood properly. On top of this, advanced microbubbles are being tested to determine how good they are at locating tumours in patients.
So, as you now know, sometimes it’s good for grown-ups to play with bubbles.
To see what a microbubble looks like, click here (scroll down on the page).

About the author

Melissa Carmen Cheung, PhD

Passionate about sharing science with the public in a fun and accessible way, Melissa is a Medical Communications professional who earned her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Toronto. Though her research focused on the design of novel cancer therapeutics, Melissa is intrigued by all facets of science. Her goal in life is to captivate people with the same excitement she feels for science.

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes the research people make things too complicated to understand.

    • Research can be complicated, but also fun and straight-forward. That’s why I started this blog. What other research areas would you like to read about?