Would you like to take a test to see what you’ll be like in the future?
Well, if so an Oddy test could be what you’re looking for - although unfortunately it’s not suitable for human testing.
An Oddy test is an accelerated aging procedure that we carry out on materials to see how they’ll react over time. It was first introduced by Mr Andrew Oddy in the 1970s and materials are enclosed in a test tube with metal coupons and heated over 4 weeks. The principle is that the heating accelerates the aging of the material.
We use Oddy tests in museums to test how materials which are used for storage and display are going to react over time.
We can tell whether a material is suitable for use by looking at the metal coupons within the test tube. For example, if the material gives off gases while it ages the accelerated aging in the test tube will cause the metal coupons to corrode – obviously we don’t want this to happen to our objects!
You can also look at the condition of the materials after the 4 weeks and if cracking has begun to occur it may indicate that after 10 years your material will no longer be strong and stable.
Currently we are working alongside the British Museum to try and build up an archive of Oddy tested material. The aim is to then make the results of these tests available to other museums.
Sharing knowledge means that museums can ensure they are looking after their collections using the best possible materials. Not so odd afterall…