This is true scientific dedication!
How long will it be
before we can see,
before we will know
if pitch really flows
like a fluid?
We’re itching to know.
19th July 2013 – headline from the Independent
Notes: “The Pitch Drops: Science experiment going for 69 years caught on film for first time.” After decades of waiting, the Pitch-Tar Drop at Trinity College Dublin has finally been witnessed (albeit by a camera) with a thumb’s worth of pitch separating from its parent body and dropping into a waiting beaker. The anonymous researcher who first set up the experiment sought to prove that tar pitch was actually a fluid capable of flowing, despite shattering when hit with a hammer. A lump of pitch was heated, placed into a funnel suspended over a jar placed in a dusty cupboard and left. The pitch would drop eventually but no-one knew when exactly and who could keep an eye on it whilst waiting? Unfortunately, the actual watching has proved harder than you would think. The Trinity College set up is a replication of the longest-running laboratory experiment in the world – a Pitch Drop at Queensland University started in 1927. Since it started the Australian pitch has dropped eight times – an average of one drip per decade- and yet despite this positively clockwork-like regularity the even itself has never actually been seen, by either human or digital eyes. This may seem near impossible, but the Queensland experiment has been the victim of a number of sitcom-worthy mishaps including one drop when the professor in charge (John Mainstone) simply chose the wrong time to step out for a cup of tea.
- Pitch drop caught on camera after 69-year wait (newscientist.com)