by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Jul 05, 2014
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.
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."
Queen Mary, University of London
Space Technology News - Applications and Research
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|