Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bitumen blob

Among the longest-running research projects are 2 experiments – one at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and the other at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland – intended to demonstrate that pitch (a.k.a. bItumen or asphalt) is not in fact solid at room temperature. The substance is so viscous, it takes 7 to 13 years for a drop to form, though a mere tenth of a second for it to fall. The Queensland pitch-drop experiment has been running since 1927 and monitored by John Mainstone since 1961, but the Australians missed filming their latest drop in 2000 because their camera was offline at the time. The Irish physicists pointed a webcam at their 1944 experiment last spring so that anyone could witness the next drop to fall, which it did at about 5 o'clock in the afternoon on July 11th (VIDEO HERE). Meanwhile, back in Brisbane, Mainstone could only congratulate them: “I have been examining the video over and over again and there were a number of things about it that were really quite tantalizing for a very long time pitch-drop observer like myself.”


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