FromQuarkstoQuasars

How Drops of Goo Remain in a State of Freefall For Years

As you can see, the technology isn't very sophisticated ... (Image Credit: Trinity College, Dublin)
As you can see, the technology isn’t very sophisticated … (Image Credit: Trinity College, Dublin)

As far as fascinating science experiments go, you’d think black goo would be pretty far down on the list, but perhaps this video will help change your mind.

In one of the longest-running scientific experiments on record — the 70-years-old Dublin pitch-drop experiment — researchers from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, have been working with this tar-like goo and studying its properties

 Why would they do that? Some might wonder. Well, As ‘Nature’ explained last year:

Over the course of Brisbane’s 86-year-experiment, only 9 drops, each taking between 7 to 13 years to form and evolve, have fallen. However, up until that point, not a single person in history (at least to our knowledge) managed to record a drop falling in real time.

The same could be said for Dublin’s version, but that’s to be expected given the fact that the experiment was all but abandoned decades ago, the device left to collect dust on a shelf inside the university.

That is, until recently. After a rejuvenated interest in the project, researchers took it a step further and decided to launch a webcam service that allows people from all across the globe to tune in 24/7. Lo and behold, on July 11th of 2013, someone not only witnessed the drop fall, but they finally captured it on video (Brisbane released a similar video after the 9th fell earlier this year, in April).

WATCH: “Pitch Tar Drop Finally Falls!”

In addition to making history, the cycle of this one drop has yielded much valuable information about the pitch.

If that weren’t enough on its own, as Denis Weaire, a physicist from Trinity College, said, “Curiosity is at the heart of good science, and the pitch drop fuels that curiosity”.

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