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In Brief

Elusive Pitch Drop Finally Caught on Camera

Pitch drop falls
A pitch drop falls in a still from a video provided by Trinity College in Dublin. (Image credit: Trinity College)

A lifetime of anticipation finally ended in success on July 11, when scientists at Trinity College in Dublin filmed a drop of pitch falling from a funnel. Pitch is the general name for sticky, viscous substances derived from coal and hydrocarbons. Pitch seems solid but actually flows at room temperature, just verrrry slowly. 

The Trinity College pitch-drop experiment is one of the longest-running laboratory experiments in the world. The oldest, a Guinness World Record holder, is another pitch drop experiment in Australia. While both trials have yielded several drops, about one a decade, this is the first time anyone has caught a pitch drop falling on film. A new drop is expected to fall from the Australian funnel sometime this year.

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Becky Oskin
Becky Oskin covers Earth science, climate change and space, as well as general science topics. Becky was a science reporter at Live Science and The Pasadena Star-News; she has freelanced for New Scientist and the American Institute of Physics. She earned a master's degree in geology from Caltech, a bachelor's degree from Washington State University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.