Pitch Drop – The World’s Longest Running Experiment

The University of Queensland in Australia currently holds the Guinness Book of Records title of World’s Longest Running Experiment [1]. It seems that pitch, a brittle black substance often used in the past to water proof boats, behaves like a liquid and is about 100 million times more viscous than water! If you were to hit the pitch with a hammer it will shatter, but at room temperature and over a long period of time, it will drip.

“The most famous version of the experiment was started in 1927 by Professor Thomas Parnell of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, to demonstrate to students that some substances that appear to be solid are in fact very-high-viscosity fluids. Parnell poured a heated sample of pitch into a sealed funnel and allowed it to settle for three years. In 1930, the seal at the neck of the funnel was cut, allowing the pitch to start flowing. A glass dome covers the funnel and it is placed on display outside a lecture theatre. Large droplets form and fall over the period of about a decade.”[3]

“Professor Mainstone had been custodian of the Pitch Drop Experiment for 52 years.
‘John’s death is particularly sad as in his time as the custodian of the experiment, he did not see a single drop fall,’ said Professor Rubinsztein-Dunlop”. [2]

[1] http://smp.uq.edu.au/content/pitch-drop-experiment,

[2] http://www.uq.edu.au/news/index.html?article=26612

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitch_drop_experiment

About blognobody

Interested in the world around me and the development of knowledge.
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