The Pitch Drops: Science experiment going for 69 years caught on film for first time

English: The pitch drop experiment, a long-ter...

English: The pitch drop experiment, a long-term experiment that started in 1927 and continues today, which gauges the viscosity of an apparent solid (pitch). The experiment was started by Thomas Parnell at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. It is currently under the direction of John Mainstone. A 9-volt battery is shown as a size reference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is true scientific dedication!


Ten seconds,
ten minutes,
ten hours.
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.

Ten days,
ten weeks,
ten months.
Once in a while
you pause and you smile.
Has the world gone mad?
Are geeks really so sad?
You wonder why
they get their high
from something so boring it makes you cry,
even more boring than watching paint dry.
And the years pass by.







Two years,
five years,
ten years
and a tear-drop forms
as gravity performs.
Ten years you’ve waited,
The image once lurking inside your head
is now hanging by its fragile thread.
Once fantasy now ecstasy.
You pop out to make a cup of tea.
From ecstasy to agony.
An instant you’ll regret forever instead,
for you miss the fracture of the thread,
you miss the drip of the tear-drop pitch.
Oh life is such a bitch!


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.


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