In these days, we live in times dominated by the now.
There is the twenty-four hours news cycle with its breathless breaking news.
There is the Internet which serves up any and all information at lightning speed.
There is streaming media that allows us to binge on any movie or television show that ever existed.
With that in mind, I came across a trio of stories that reminded me that humans do have the capability to look beyond this moment and take the long view.
Over at Oxford University in England, they have an experiment that has been running nearly continuously since 1840. I first saw the story about the bells over at i09 and there is even an entry over at Wikipedia about it.
There is another experiment – this one has only been going on since 1930 so it’s a baby compared to Oxford’s bells – that is being done at the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia). This product of a scientific mind is watching pitch drop. Pitch, while looking solid is actually viscous, which just means that it if left to its own devices (and gravity), it will form a drop…just like water, but much, much slower. However, in the years since this experiment started, it has only dripped eight times. What is even wilder (to my mind) is the fact that no one has ever seen the drop of pitch actually drop. Want to be a part of history? Click here to see the live Internet feed of the pitch drop experiment. It makes paint drying look like a demolition derby.
A newcomer to the land of The Long View is the musical piece entitled As Slow As Possible. It is a piece of organ music with no set instructions on how long each note should be played. Somebody (or a group of somebodies) saw that as a challenge and in 2001, an organ in Halberstadt, Germany, began playing the composition. It is scheduled to end in the year 2640. The last time a note changed was in October of 2013 and the next change in notes will not take place until 2020.