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   Undertoad  Tuesday Jun 4 12:30 PM

6/4/2002: The pitch-drop experiment



It doesn't look like much, but what you have there is a scientific experiment that has been in progress since 1927.

Pitch, a derivative of tar, is very much like a solid, but a Queensland scientist wanted to prove that it has "fluidic" properties. In other words, that it flows like water. It just has an extremely high viscosity.

So, in 1927, he heated some pitch and put it into a glass funnel. He let the pitch "settle" for three years, and then in 1930 he cut the bottom off the funnel. And then the pitch began to drip.

In December 1938, the first drop fell.
February 1947, the second.
April 1954, the third.
May 1962, the fourth.
August 1970, the fifth.
April 1979, the sixth.
July 1988, the seventh.

And recently, the eighth drop fell. Amazingly, nobody has ever seen a drop actually fall. They had a webcam on it for the last drop, but there was a glitch during the actual drop...!

The full story:

http://www.physics.uq.edu.au/pitchdrop/pitchdrop.shtml



MaggieL  Tuesday Jun 4 01:25 PM

Very, very cool.....



LordSludge  Tuesday Jun 4 01:31 PM

If ever there was an instance where this expression applied:

"Somebody has way too much time on their hands!"




Griff  Tuesday Jun 4 01:34 PM

nice product placement as well... just for a sense of scale don't you know



elSicomoro  Tuesday Jun 4 01:40 PM

I wonder why it took 14 years for that 8th drop to fall, given that the other drops happened about 7-9 years apart.



warch  Tuesday Jun 4 02:06 PM

Quote:
I wonder why it took 14 years for that 8th drop to fall
Cool years?...
This is just a wonderfully weird object. Does anyone know the estimated time to complete the experiment?


jeni  Tuesday Jun 4 02:14 PM

wow. so when did the scientist die? or is he not yet dead? maybe i should read the story. ahem.



jeni  Tuesday Jun 4 02:16 PM

okay, i read the story and still don't know. so my question, then, is...how many drops did he live to see? not see, but rather know about.



Nic Name  Tuesday Jun 4 02:31 PM

PARNELL, Thomas

Born Northants, England, 5 July 1881; died Brisbane 1 September 1948. Education, St. John's College, Cambridge (B.A. 1903). Tutor, Trinity College, University of Melbourne, 1904-11. Lecturer in physics University of Queensland 1911-18; professor 1919-48. A.I.F. 1917-19.



Tobiasly  Tuesday Jun 4 02:32 PM

I'm gonna be painting my living room soon. Maybe I'll point a webcam at the wall, so people can watch the paint dry. In the name of science.



warch  Tuesday Jun 4 02:48 PM

I am 4 in pitch drops. that's a lot of pitch.



lawman  Tuesday Jun 4 03:03 PM

timeline

here's a visual representation of the 'drip' timeline.

now, if someone could cross reference this with the average yearly temperature and humidity whereiver this thing is, maybe there would be some correlation. Of course that person would have to have much more free time than I do.



MaggieL  Tuesday Jun 4 03:14 PM

And I've been alive for six of them . Wow.



snubber  Tuesday Jun 4 03:21 PM

14 years...

if you read the comment from professor mainstone here you will see that he mentions the school's decision to air-condition the hall where this experiment resides, causing it to drip much much slower.



Joe  Tuesday Jun 4 07:48 PM

14 years is a long time

I bet if you just heated up the funnel with a propane torch you wouldn't have to wait so long.



Nothing But Net  Tuesday Jun 4 08:09 PM

Glass is also a 'liquid' with an even higher viscosity

There are very old windows in Europe where there is a visible 'thickening' at the bottom. A liquid indeed, but flowing ever so slowly!



jeni  Tuesday Jun 4 10:33 PM

so he lived for two of them. thanks for the info i'm what you might call "too lazy to look that shit up"



CharlieG  Wednesday Jun 5 07:42 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by sycamore
I wonder why it took 14 years for that 8th drop to fall, given that the other drops happened about 7-9 years apart.
Airconditioning!

I read an article somewhere on this - the pitch USED to flow faster during the summer, now it flows faster during the winter. The rate changed when the put in AC


Nic Name  Wednesday Jun 5 09:40 AM

and there's a link to that article posted (fourth preceding) by snubber



xant  Wednesday Jun 5 10:59 AM

Undergraduates

Those who started this year will see only one drop as an undergraduate.

At least, most of them will . . .



Slight  Wednesday Jun 5 05:02 PM

I have an experiment like this, although it is not nearly as interesting. My earth sciences teacher in eight grade said that given infinite time, water could disolve anything. Now I doubt the authenticity of this statement since pure gold would never rust/deteriorate/dissolve. Anyway I never liked the fact that US Currency makes it through the wash. Seems like if paper disolves in water, dollar bills, which are paper money, should come apart in water. So I took a martenelli's bottle and filled it with water. I let is sit a couple days to degass. Then I put a $1 bill in and corked it. The water is now quite dirty but the bill is still intact. I know this is a crime but it is my money.



Nic Name  Wednesday Jun 5 05:34 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by NBN

Glass is also a 'liquid' with an even higher viscosity

There are very old windows in Europe where there is a visible 'thickening' at the bottom. A liquid indeed, but flowing ever so slowly!
debunked


Angelus  Wednesday Jun 5 08:19 PM

Quote:
debunked
Short version: If you look at the panes of glass in really old windows, you'll find that there are ones that are thicker at the top, thicker at the side, thicker at the bottom, etc. The variation in width comes from the imperfect manufacturing process, not from the supposed "fluid" properties of glass.


juju2112  Thursday Jun 6 02:37 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by Angelus
Short version: If you look at the panes of glass in really old windows, you'll find that there are ones that are thicker at the top, thicker at the side, thicker at the bottom, etc. The variation in width comes from the imperfect manufacturing process, not from the supposed "fluid" properties of glass.
You are now my personal hero. Can we hire you part time to do this?


Angelus  Thursday Jun 6 07:57 PM

Quote:
You are now my personal hero. Can we hire you part time to do this?
Well, I obviously didn't mean this post for you!

I meant it for lazy people like me who didn't want to wade through the other stuff on that page. You're clearly the exception to that.


classicman  Sunday Jan 6 01:45 AM

So is it gonna drip anytime soon? Did we miss the last one?



Aliantha  Sunday Jan 6 10:23 AM

you'd have at least another year or so to wait, but probably more since they put in aircon.

That uni happens to be the one my husband lectures at. I'll ask him tomorrow if he knows about it.



classicman  Sunday Jan 6 12:01 PM

that'd be great, thanks. I was trying to see of there was a projected "drip date" but came up empty.



WyrdNyrd  Monday Jan 7 05:56 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slight View Post
I have an experiment like this, although it is not nearly as interesting. My earth sciences teacher in eight grade said that given infinite time, water could disolve anything. Now I doubt the authenticity of this statement since pure gold would never rust/deteriorate/dissolve. Anyway I never liked the fact that US Currency makes it through the wash. Seems like if paper disolves in water, dollar bills, which are paper money, should come apart in water. So I took a martenelli's bottle and filled it with water. I let is sit a couple days to degass. Then I put a $1 bill in and corked it. The water is now quite dirty but the bill is still intact. I know this is a crime but it is my money.
Given enough time the experiment will work, but one problem exists. US currency, dollar bills, is not made from paper. They are made from cotton.


Aliantha  Monday Jan 7 06:37 PM

I asked Dazza if he's ever seen this experiment and he said he had, but that it was about the most boring one he'd ever seen. He doesn't know when the next drop is going to be. Apparently they have stopped working on trying to predict that sort of thing. He said that maybe some undergrad might take on he experiment down the track and try to work it out. He then went on to say that it might take a while for the student to get a mark for the paper though.



classicman  Monday Jan 7 10:53 PM

[thread] OK, LJ has got me doing it now - I read the thread title as:
"The Bitch drop experiment" maybe thats cuz I just talked to my ex. [drift]



Flint  Monday Jan 7 11:11 PM

I thought this was going to be about the doppler effect.



SPUCK  Thursday Jan 10 05:24 AM

Whats the web camera link? I want to put it up on my screen so can catch the next drop.

That way I can be on talk shows and write a book.



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