Why It Pays To Perservere: Experiment Works After 69 Years [Video]

Researchers have finally captured the fall of a drop of tar pitch on camera after 69 years. It's the outcome to one of the longest-running laboratory investigations in the world and a timely reminder that perseverance (eventually) reaps results.

They say a watched toaster never pops, but we doubt many of your have ever had to wait more than half a century. The Dublin pitch-drop experiment was set up in 1944 at Trinity College Dublin to demonstrate the high viscosity or low fluidity of pitch (a highly viscous material that looks solid but is actually just a slow moving liquid).

Last week, researchers finally captured the fall of a drop of tar pitch on camera for the first time.

The University of Queensland in Australia has been conducting its own pitch drop experiment since 1927 but failed to record the last few drops due to various mishaps, ranging from the camera being offline at the time to the experiment's custodian heading out for a snack at the critical moment.

Check out the video above to witness a moment that was 69 years in the making.


    I used to see the UQ pitch experiment on my way to class, it's outside one of the lecture theaters where anyone can see it.

    Thats pretty cool.
    Pity about the Aus version though!

    Interesting. I feel sorry for the custodian of the Australian experiment. If I was them, I'd feel pretty silly over missing it all because of a snack. >_<

    Also, I noticed in the video that the droplet was still long and gooey after it dropped and landed. I wonder how long it would take to ooze out and fill the bottom of the container. Another 69 years?

    Last edited 19/07/13 7:44 pm

      Maybe not 69 years, but a long time, you can see this in the UQ experiment, the last few drops are still quite visible, holding shape even after 10-20 years. http://smp.uq.edu.au/content/pitch-drop-experiment


    I just don't get why you wouldn't start several at the same time. Its not like it takes up a lot of space. And the chances of them dropping at exactly the same time is negligible.

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