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Ten drops in a century: when physicists watch the pitch flow

2022-08-15T15:34:42.600Z

WHEN RESEARCH TAKES ITS TIME (1/5) - A device installed in 1927 in Australia holds the record for the longest ongoing laboratory experiment.



Dazzling, science?

Not always.

If it can be slow, laborious and repetitive, it is often at this price that it provides answers.

Some experiences can even last for decades.

Stories of some of these challenges to time.

We are in 1927 in the physics department of the University of Queensland, Australia, when Professor Thomas Parnell decides to embark on a small experiment for educational purposes.

He obtains pitch, a dark material obtained by the slow combustion of resinous debris, also called bitumen when it is derived from petroleum.

At room temperature, it looks like a solid.

A simple hammer blow can even break it into pieces with sharp edges like flint.

And yet… it sinks!

It is this strangeness, already well documented at the time, that the physics teacher wants to show his students.

To do this, he heats the pitch and pours the sticky paste he obtains into a glass funnel from which he…

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Source: lefigaro

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