By Stan Schwartz
VANDALIA—There is something about the pealing laughter of children that can raise most people’s spirits. The Vandalia Public Library had plenty of that on Monday, July 19, when the Bubble Professor was in the house—or in this case—out in the field next to the library.
Rick Eugene Brammer—the Bubble Professor—came to play, creating a magical world of bubbles, which sent children racing around the open field doing their best to burst those bubbles.
Brammer does magic shows and balloon shows, as well. He started Absolute Science five years ago hoping to create an exciting and interactive way to engage people with science. He came to Vandalia as part of the library’s summer programs.
Just a few ground rules before the bubbles started to fly. Brammer wanted the children to be aware of their surroundings. When chasing bubbles, he didn’t want them to run into anything or anyone. And, if a bubble made it out of the field and crossed the road, they were to stop chasing it.
“We want to be safe when doing this,” Brammer told the children and the parents who came to participate in this soapy fun.
And then, it was bubbles as far as the eye could see. Small ones, large ones, bubbles that changed shape as they floated away on the breeze. The children dashed to and fro, popping the bubbles as fast as they could—their laughter bouncing off the buildings around them.
Brammer brought with him a new device that produces foam. He was hoping the children would be able to come up with a name for this device, which he used to give them foam mohawks.
The size of the bubbles Brammer creates depends on the amount of wind he’s dealing with. With the right equipment, could make a bubble as big as an elephant. He used wands that had rope tied between them with loops of varying size. He would dip the rope into a bucket filled with bubble solution, let the excess drip off and then hold the rope aloft as he backed away, creating the bubbles.
“The bonus,” he said, “is the kids will get a lot of exercise for the next hour” as they chase down the bubbles.
The solution his company uses to make bubbles is a closely guarded secret. You also have to have the right wands for the type of wind, he added, in order to maximize the amount of bubbles created.
He asked if the children knew what the colors of the bubbles mean.
“The blue, the green, the purple and the red—those are the strongest parts of your bubble,” Brammer said. “When you see it turn yellow, it’s getting weaker, and then it will turn clear and pop.”
There are also three layers to a bubble, he added, a soap layer, a water layer and another soap layer.
“So it’s like a water sandwich,” Brammer said. “When the water evaporates in between those soap layers, that’s when it’s going to pop. Even with three layers, he noted, a bubble is thickness is just 1/20,000 the size of a human hair.
“We have four different bubble solutions we use outside, depending on the heat, the wind and the pH of the water,” he explained. “And we have another solution that we use indoors for trick bubble shows.” The formula he uses stops the bubbles from evaporating too quickly, which allows bigger bubbles that stay aloft longer.
He wanted the children to try and blow one bubble into another.
“The record is 17 bubbles by a 10-year old girl at one of my events,” Brammer noted.
Crystal McCurdy joined in to help create bubbles along side Brammer picking up her own set of wands. And if the bubbles burst on one’s hair, Brammer added, “it’s just a free shampoo, courtesy of the Vandalia Public Library.”
All their shows last year had to be canceled because of the pandemic. This year, Brammer said, his company has more than 400 shows booked. He has seven people working for him, putting on science shows.
Some of the bubbles lasted quite a while, floating across S. Main Street and popping on the trees outside the YMCA.
“Sometimes,” Brammer noted, “people blocks away look up and wonder where all the bubbles are coming from.”
Even though the bubble solution formula is a secret, Brammer did say he used Dawn dishwashing soap and powdered sugar in the mixture.
He had four people going out to several states doing bubble programs because they became so popular. They were even invited to the Nebraska State Fair for three days. It was there, he noted, that a woman hired him to produce bubbles during her daughter’s wedding, instead of people throwing rice.
“It was an outdoor wedding, and she wanted something for the kids,” he said. “The adults liked it, too.”
He also did shows at senior homes, where people were confined to their rooms because of the pandemic. They created the bubbles outside their windows.
“It went over very well,” he said.
One time, he said, a monarch butterfly flew right into one of his bubbles.
“When the bubble popped, it was perfectly fine,” he added.
By the end of the show, the children were tired and quite soapy, but McCurdy had one more surprise inside for them—bottles of bubble solution they could take home, and Brammer also had a name for his device—The Foaminator.
To learn more, go to www.absolute-science.com.