Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Pitch Drop Experiment

Something better — or worse — than watching grass grow!

"The first Professor of Physics at the University of Queensland, Professor Thomas Parnell, began an experiment in 1927 to illustrate that everyday materials can exhibit quite surprising properties. The experiment demonstrates the fluidity and high viscosity of pitch, a derivative of tar once used for waterproofing boats. At room temperature pitch feels solid — even brittle — and can easily be shattered with a blow from a hammer. It's quite amazing then, to see that pitch at room temperature is actually fluid!

"In 1927 Professor Parnell heated a sample of pitch and poured it into a glass funnel with a sealed stem. Three years were allowed for the pitch to settle, and in 1930 the sealed stem was cut. From that date on the pitch has slowly dripped out of the funnel — so slowly that now, 80 years later, the ninth drop is only just forming.

"Professor Parnell lived long enough to see the first two drops descend from the funnel, which took a total of 17 years."
More from the UQ website, including live(?) video of this exciting event, can be found here.

2 Comments:

Blogger harry k stammer said...

Kind of like waiting for the world to change...

you only get two drops...

1:01 PM  
Blogger mark young said...

one drop makes you larger.....

1:33 PM  

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