Last year, a group of Japanese researchers caused a stir online with the publication of their “dark flies” paper, about a colony of Drosophila melanogaster that had been maintained in continuous darkness for fifty-seven years.
Well, they’ve got nothing on Trinity College Dublin’s School of Physics, who have been continuously running a tar drop experiment for the last 69 years.
Essentially, the experiment is meant to understand the viscosity of tar, or “pitch”, a material that flows incredibly slowly. In 1944, a funnel was packed with tar and drops have fallen at the rate of about one per decade. But until now, no one had ever witnessed a drop falling.
On July 11th, a drop dripped and was captured via time lapse filming. Tracking the evolution of the drip, the viscosity of the pitch to be 2×107 Pascal seconds – approximately 2 million times the viscosity of honey.
I imagine that congratulations are in order for what I assume must be a graduate student in his mid-90’s who will now be allowed to graduate and move on to his postdoc.