Back in early August, I had the pleasure of interviewing John Mainstone, the man who has taken care of the Pitch Drop Experiment at Australia's University of Queensland since 1961. The experiment has been running since 1927, when Professor Thomas Parnell set out to show his students that coal-tar pitch can behave as both a solid and a liquid. Despite being hard enough to break with a hammer, the pitch also drips ... sliding very, very slowly down the neck of a funnel into a beaker.
In Mainstone's years as custodian, the drops have dripped five times. He never got a chance to watch any of them, either in person, or on video. The first falling drop he ever saw came this earlier this summer, when a different pitch drop experiment in Ireland managed to catch the event on camera.
Mainstone's pitch is predicted to drop later this fall, but he won't be around to see it. Last week, I received an email from his daughter Julia, confirming that Mainstone had died of a stroke on August 23rd. He was 78. You didn't have to talk to Mainstone for very long to get a sense of the passion he had for the pitch drop project. I'm glad I got a chance to speak with him before he died and, in a couple of weeks, we'll be running a feature story here at BoingBoing based, in part, on those interviews.
In the meantime, the Pitch Drop Experiment has a new custodian, Andrew White, a physics professor and former student of Mainstone.
Archaeologists excavating a Hittite city on the border of Turkey and Syria found a broken jug that, upon restoration, revealed a smiley face. At 3,700-years-old, it could be the oldest smiley face drawing ever found. From Smithsonian: According to Zuhal Uzundere Kocalar at Turkey’s state-run news service, the Anadolu Agency, the researchers did not notice […]
On August 3 in celebration of the 40th anniversary month of the Voyager interstellar mission, please join me at San Francisco’s Exploratorium to experience the Voyager Golden Record with two of the brilliant minds behind it — SETI pioneer Frank Drake and science writer Timothy Ferris. In August and September 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft, […]
The Chinese government’s wish-list for AI researchers is pretty ambitious: “Breakthroughs should be made in basic theories of AI, such as big data intelligence, multimedia aware computing, human-machine hybrid intelligence, swarm intelligence and automated decision-making.”
The TREBLAB X11 Earphones are versatile, offer great sound, and are currently $32.99 in the Boing Boing Store.These Bluetooth earbuds are a great workout companion. They’re totally sweat proof and their ear-fins keep them snugly in place during high activity — something that Apple’s AirPods can only do if you were blessed with precisely the […]
Whether you’re a seasoned entertainment industry veteran or a student working on your first spec script, having the right tool for the job will make a huge difference in your focus and productivity.Final Draft 10 is far and away the world’s best screenwriting software, used extensively by professional film and TV writers at top production […]
Web content creators who don’t have a solid SEO strategy should take note of Webtexttool. It’s a service that pulls in anonymous data from their entire user base to offer crowdsourced guidance that increases your search page ranks. By analyzing prior user successes, it helps you better gauge how your posts will perform at a […]