Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nature of solids and liquids explored through new pitch drop experiment

Date:
July 1, 2014
Source:
Queen Mary, University of London
Summary:
Physicists have set up a new pitch drop experiment for students to explore the difference between solid and liquids. Known as the 'world's longest experiment', the set up at the University of Queensland was famous for taking ten years for a drop of pitch -- a thick, black, sticky material -- to fall from a funnel.

Queen Mary University of London have set up five bitumen samples in glass tubes with different orifice diameters. Two webcams record the samples by taking the pictures from top and bottom angles every hour. An image is taken at 10am everyday -- this is a photo from the bottom camera taken on Wednesday 25 June.
Credit: Queen Mary University of London

Physicists at Queen Mary University of London have set up a new pitch drop experiment for students to explore the difference between solid and liquids.

Related Articles


Known as the 'world's longest experiment', the set up at the University of Queensland was famous for taking ten years for a drop of pitch -- a thick, black, sticky material -- to fall from a funnel.

Publishing in the journal Physics Education, the design of QMUL's trial is different to both well-known pitch drop experiments*. It uses different bitumen (the pitch), which is 30 times less viscous than the Queensland experiment, so that the flow can be seen quicker.

The team have installed not one but five different glass tubes with varying diameters to give five speeds of flow, and set up web cameras to catch the drop in action.

"We're using the pitch drop experiment to inspire our students and make them question the fundamental nature between solids and liquids," said Kostya Trachenko, lead author and Reader at QMUL's School of Physics and Astronomy.

"Because our experimental set-up is unique, we have proof that apparent solids like bitumen can flow over long time scales -- in this case, one academic year."

Undergraduate students Amy Widdicombe and Prathisan Ravindrarajah measured the flow of bitumen during a summer project.

Dr Trachenko added: "The experiment highlights and contrasts the conflict between human experience and intuition on one hand and physical reality on the other: the conflict exists in several notable areas of physics. The experiment goes to the heart of modern physics and is awe-inspiring in terms of potential timescales. For example, our calculations demonstrate that familiar silica glass would take much longer than the age of the universe to flow."

*There are pitch drop experiments running at the University of Queensland and Trinity College Dublin


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen Mary, University of London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A T Widdicombe, P Ravindrarajah, A Sapelkin, A E Phillips, D Dunstan, M T Dove, V V Brazhkin, K Trachenko. Measurement of bitumen viscosity in a room-temperature drop experiment: student education, public outreach and modern science in one. Physics Education, 2014; 49 (4): 406 DOI: 10.1088/0031-9120/49/4/406

Cite This Page:

Queen Mary, University of London. "Nature of solids and liquids explored through new pitch drop experiment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140701193301.htm>.
Queen Mary, University of London. (2014, July 1). Nature of solids and liquids explored through new pitch drop experiment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140701193301.htm
Queen Mary, University of London. "Nature of solids and liquids explored through new pitch drop experiment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140701193301.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tesla 'Insane Mode' Gives Unsuspecting Passengers the Ride of Their Life

Tesla 'Insane Mode' Gives Unsuspecting Passengers the Ride of Their Life

RightThisMinute (Jan. 29, 2015) — If your car has an "Insane Mode" then you know it&apos;s fast. Well, these unsuspecting passengers were in for one insane ride when they hit the button. Tesla cars are awesome. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com
Now Bill Gates Is 'Concerned' About Artificial Intelligence

Now Bill Gates Is 'Concerned' About Artificial Intelligence

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) — Bill Gates joins the list of tech moguls scared of super-intelligent machines. He says more people should be concerned, but why? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Stunt Pilots Perform Incredibly Close Flyby

Two Stunt Pilots Perform Incredibly Close Flyby

Rumble (Jan. 29, 2015) — Two pilots from &apos;Escuadrilla Argentina de Acrobacia Aιrea&apos; perform an incredibly low altitude flyby stunt during a recent show exhibition in Argentina. Check it out! Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Brand Blocker' Glasses Blur Ads in Real Time

'Brand Blocker' Glasses Blur Ads in Real Time

Buzz60 (Jan. 28, 2015) — A team of college students design and build a pair of goggles that will obscure any corporate branding from your field of vision. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins