Posted on | June 17, 2020 | 2 Comments

Thomas Parnell and his experiment.

Mike Magee

If you look in the Guiness Book of Records, you will discover that the record for the world’s longest running laboratory experiment is held by the Pitch Drop Experiment at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. The experiment was begun in 1927 by physics professor Thomas Parnell who wished to demonstrate how viscous a liquid could be and still be “liquid”.

Dr. Parnell poured hot tar pitch into a glass vessel and let it cool for three years. He then cut open the funnel shaped bottom of the vessel and allowed the tar to flow.

Demonstrating that patience truly is a virtue when it comes to observational science, the first drop fell eight years later.  Since then, eight drops have fallen, roughly one drop per decade. This has allowed physicists to calculate the viscosity of this black goo to be 230 billion times the viscosity of water.

Over the years, many…

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