These swirling vortices look an awful lot like the satellite weather images we see every day, but in fact they're the beautifully intricate surface of a soap bubble—which could help researchers understand the storms that threaten millions of lives every year.

We already know that researchers from the University of Bordeaux, France, have been heating soap bubbles to create these wonderful vortices, then studying them using a camera that shoots up to 500 frames per second. The results—now shown here on film—show that, just like storms seem to, the vortices reach peak intensity halfway through their lives. While the bubble-based vortices may be simpler than weather systems, the researchers hope that their findings should help them better understand cyclone science in the future. [New Scientist]