69-year experiment captures pitch-tar drop

The moment on July 11 when a drop of pitch fell into a beaker at Trinity College in Dublin.

(Credit: Screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET)

It took seven decades, but the pitch has finally been caught in the act.

Since 1944, physicists at Trinity College in Dublin have been trying to measure the viscosity of pitch tar, a polymer seemingly solid at room temperature, and witness it dripping from a funnel.

A drop forms only rarely, but last week a Webcam was on hand to witness the magic moment.

“The viscosity of pitch-tar is calculated to be 230 billion times that of water or 230,000 times the viscosity of honey,” the college’s School of Physics says on the experiment page.

“Nobody has ever witnessed a drop fall in such an experiment — they happen roughly only once in a decade!”

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