Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pitch Drop Experiment

Can you imagine writing your Ph.D. dissertation on this experiment. Your peer review board would probably be dead or institutionalized at Belleview. The experiment illustrates just how viscous some materials are...that superficially they appear to be a solid but in realty they do have movement. This experiment was started by Professor Thomas Parnell [University of Queensland, Australia] in 1927 and is still operational. It is concerned with "pitch"--a derivative of asphalt [bitumen]/crude petroleum. "Fluid" physics at its slowest.

"In 1927 Professor Parnell heated a sample of pitch and poured it into 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, 72 years later, the eighth drop is only just about to fall."

"The Pitch Drop Experiment"


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