World’s Longest Experiment Records Success


Scientists at the University of Queensland in Australia have been watching a piece of pitch (tar) drip–very slowly–for 85 years. They’ve just had the ninth drop in that time, and the first captured on camera.

The pitch drop experiment was conceived in 1927 as an extreme way of demonstrating that a liquid could have such high viscosity that it misleadingly appeared to be a solid. It simply consists of some heated pitch in a funnel, covered by a glass dome. Over time drops form and then drop completely, around once every 10 years. As a sign of how long-term the experiment is, creator Professor Thomas Parnell let  the pitch settle for three years before cutting the stem and allowing the first drop to start forming

Sadly the latest drop comes too late for Professor John Mainstone, who supervised the experiment for 50 years before his death last year. He missed drops in 1977 and 1988. By 2000 staff had added a webcam to increase the likelihood that somebody would, even if not in person, witness the drop as it happened. Amazingly not only did Mainstone miss the 2000 drop, but it occurred during a 20 minute outage in the webcam feed.

This week’s occurrence isn’t the conclusion of a complete cycle of an “official” drop. The ninth drop has now descended to the point where it is touching the pool formed by the previous drops. However, it hasn’t yet detached from the original piece of pitch.

There’s only been one occasion when the duration between drops shortened rather than lengthened. Despite the duration of the experiment, it’s currently too early to be certain if that’s an inherent quality of the pitch, or is affected by other factors such as temperature variation. The substantial increase in the intervals of the last two drops appears to be connected to the installation of air conditioning in the room housing the experiment in 1988.

This isn’t the first time pitch dropping has been caught on camera. Scientists at Trinity University in Dublin started a similar experiment in 1944 but later left the equipment unsupervised and unmonitored on a shelf where an unknown number of drops took place over the years. In April last year, staff decided to resume monitoring and installed a webcam, which caught a drop just three months later.

Flying Hexarotor Robots Perform the “2001: A Space Odyssey” Theme Song on Musical Instruments [Video]

I, for one, welcome our new hexarotor robotic overlords.

From KMel Robotics:

KMel Robotics presents a team of flying robots that have taken up new instruments to play some fresh songs. The hexrotors create music in ways never seen before, like playing a custom single string guitar hooked up to an electric guitar amp. Drums are hit using a deconstructed piano action. And there are bells. Lots of bells.

Many thanks to Lockheed Martin and Intel Corporation for their support.

[TheDmel | Via LS]

Star Wars R2-D2 Measuring Cup Set


From Thinkgeek:

This set of R2-D2 Measuring Cups disassembles into 4 measuring cups plus 4 measuring spoons and reassembles in a snap (fortunately, it’s not as complicated as C-3PO). Each has its measurement written inside so you can’t forget what they are and handles on the back that don’t distract from R2′s aesthetic. The only problem we can foresee with these is that if you show somebody else your R2-D2 Measuring Cups, you may have to install a restraining bolt to keep them from wandering off.


[Star Wars R2-D2 Measuring Cup Set]

Netflix to Increase Prices for New Members Only…For Now


Do you already have a Netflix subscription? Well, then you’re safe…for now.

The basic Netflix Instant subscription is currently $7.99, but Netflix has announced that number will jump to either $8.99 or $9.99 for new members, depending on the country.

For comparison, Hulu is $8 a month in the U.S. while Amazon Prime is $75 a year, which breaks down to $6.25, although they’ve announced a price increase for 2014 as well, according to Nerdist.

As for current subscribers, Nerdist says that in the same letter to shareholders about the new member price increase, it also hints at an eventual increase for them, as well.

Anti-Gravitatory Catoast [Comic]


Murphy’s Law, Finagle’s corollary:

“If something can go wrong, it will,

So if you throw a slice of toast with butter into the air, it will always fall with the buttered side down.”

Cats Conservation Law:

“A cat will always land on its feet.”

So, what would happen if we stick a slice of toast with butter to a cat’s back and we throw it to the air? The cat, by law, will land on its feet, but the toast, (by law too) will land on the butter’s side. Against this problem of physics laws, the nature chooses the best (and laziest, I think) way of taking a solution: the cat may just not fall.

[Source: SergeantBiscuits | Via IFLS]

Amazon Deal of the Day: 49% Off Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) – $17.99


For today’s edition of Deal of the Day, Amazon has Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) for just $17.99. That’s 49% off on the movie’s regular list price of $34.98.

Akira isn’t just a movie – it’s the genesis of a genre. Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark cyberpunk classic obliterated the boundaries of Japanese animation and forced the world to look into the future. Akira’s arrival shattered traditional thinking, creating space for movies like the The Matrix to be dreamed into brutal reality. Without Kaneda and Tetsuo, without espers and psionic assassins, without that badass motorcycle – our world would be a far less exciting place to exist. But the manga became the movie and the movie became a phenomenon and the world took notice. Now, Akira is everywhere. If you can’t see it in the streets – if you can’t feel it crawling around inside your brain – then you have yet to be initiated. What. Are. You. Waiting. For?

• Listen How You Want: The 25th Anniversary release of Akira features both English dubs that have occurred since 1988, letting you choose the track that’s best for you.

• An Audiophiles Dream: Includes the “Hypersonic” 24-Bit, 192kHz Dolby TrueHD remaster of the original Japanese audio track.

• Exploding with Extras: Packed with over 120 minutes of on-disc extra features; including the “Restoring Akira” documentary and original storyboards for the anime.

-Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)$34.98 $17.99 (49% Off)