7 of the world's longest-running experiments

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NEW YORK. July 22. KAZINFORM When physicists at Trinity College, Dublin, started a viscosity experiment in 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt was president of the United States, World War II was well underway, and Meet Me in St. Louis was tearing up the box office.

Seventy years later, one of the longest-running lab experiments in the world has finally paid off: A camera has captured one drop of tar pitch falling from a funnel into a jar-for the very first time.

The tar pitch had been placed in the funnel by physicists in 1944 to illustrate that pitch-a black, carbon-containing material that you might know as asphalt or bitumen-was actually not a solid, but a very, very slow-moving liquid at room temperature.

Though drips and drops did form over time, they were never captured on camera-which would have definitively proved that pitch was a viscous liquid. A similar experiment conducted by physicists in Queensland, Australia, over the past 86 years also yielded sporadic drops-but the drops were never caught on video.

Enter Trinity College physicist Shane Bergin. Last April, he decided to set up a webcam to watch the pitch. He then waited. And waited. And waited some more. Finally, on July 11, he saw one of the drips actually dripping, Kazinform quotes National Geographic.

"My first thought was, 'Gosh, I hope the video camera was working,'" he said. "My second was, 'I hope the video was recording.' And it was. And then when I saw the video, I was actually amazed. I knew it was this phenomena that no one had ever seen."

Bergin says the long-running pitch experiment at Trinity gets to the heart of what good science really is.

"We had so many people coming through the department asking, 'When do you think it's going to go?" he said. "We were taking bets in a fun way as to when it would go, and it really got a lot of people thinking and talking about science."

Believe it or not, the long-running pitch experiments conducted in Ireland and Australia are actually some of the youngest of the oldest scientific experiments taking place around the world. Below, we detail a few more of the longest-running research projects (and scientific oddities) currently underway.

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