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Last Updated: Friday May 15 2009 05:30 GMT

Adam joins city's bubbles experiment

Adam blowing a bubble

Blowing bubbles for city experiment

Hundreds of people in Manchester are taking part in a giant science experiment over the next few days... by blowing bubbles!

They are measuring the weather, as part of a festival called Futuresonic. Adam got up some puff for the preparations.


"Just like every city in the world, Manchester is an Urban Heat Island.

It sounds exotic, but it really means that the buildings and the roads make the town hotter than the countryside.

The impact of this on the weather is hard to measure, but some artists and scientists are getting ordinary people to help them.

Hundreds of bubble-blowing kits have been sent out. They contain a cone made from rolled up paper, and bubble mixture containing washing up liquid.

Bubble Race

They are asking people to play two games to measure wind patterns in the city.

A bubble
The bubbles help scientists measure the city's wind patterns

In the Bubble Chase, you blow a series of five to 10 bubbles, follow them and note the point where the last one pops.

In the Bubble Race, you time how long it takes for a bubble to travel 10 metres.

Mancunians then upload that info onto a website where it will be analysed by the Met Office - the experts who come up with the weather forecast every day.

Artist Drew Hemment came up with the idea. He told me: "Some grumpy people might say this isn't real science. But this gets hundreds - maybe thousands - of measurements of wind all across the city. And that's really hard to do."

Bubble-blowing advice

I dropped into the Manchester Academy where they were practising.

A boy blowing a bubble
A small paper cone and bubble mixture are all it takes to join in

The playground was chaos - with everyone chasing their bubbles and not really looking to see if they were going to bump into someone or something!

Eden said: "I was really surprised because I'd thought you'd need GPS and loads of measuring devices and stuff, but you don't."

Sanjay gave me some advice on blowing a world-class bubble: "Don't blow the cone too hard, just nice and slowly. Try to get a middle-sized bubble and it'll go really far!"

And Zafid told me he really felt as if he was part of the community and that it was an honour to be helping out the climate boffins."

Adam