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.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


4 Thoughts on "A 69 Year Old Experiment Continues to Yield Data"

Oh great, now we know there’s a 200 year old graduate student out there just waiting for that one last data point on that one last figure for the dissertation…

What we have here is something creationists will never understand. These are examples of the beauty of science.

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