The tar finally drops

Nieuws | de redactie
19 juli 2013 | The world’s oldest continuous experiment has created another climax. For the ninth time since 1927 a drop of tar dropped out of funnel and for the first time it has been caught on camera.

Watching the experiment makes the growing of grass seem exciting. The experiment was started by the University of Queensland in Australia.  It was designed to show that the tar-like substance “brittle pitch”, which was used to make boats waterproof, is not solid but liquid. Although, it can be splintered by hitting it with a hammer.

Visualization of time

The experiment was designed by Thomas Parnell who heated a sample of pitch and poured it into a glass with a sealed stem. After waiting for more than three years he cut the glass and the waiting for the first drop began. The experiment does not only sheds new light on everyday materials but also visualizes the concept of time.

The previous eight drops the experiment formed were missed by all, including its head of research, Professor John Mainstone. This time the three webcams that caught the decisive moment on camera. In 1979, he missed the key moment after skipping his usual Sunday campus visit and, in 1988 he missed it by just five minutes as he stepped out “to get a refreshment”. Although the experiment is one of the slowest around, the decisive moment can be missed in “a blink of the eye”. Sometimes fundamental research looks remarkably like everyday life.

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