World's longest-running experiment finally sees its result

The pitch-drop experiment at the University of Queensland, which was started way back in 1927, has frustrated many over the years. In total, nine drops of tar have fallen since it started, the last three of which were missed by one fluke or another. This time, with 25,000 registered online viewers and three live feeds running around the clock, the strangely elusive pitch was actually witnessed as it touched down against the bottom of its beaker.

This comes after the last three drops were all accidentally missed, even as recently as 2000 when a power outage actually made the already-present webcams lose power at just the wrong moment. People definitely caught it this time, but since a pitch takes so dang long to actually drop, the precise time that it touched down is still under review. That's important for the online viewers of the drop, since those who were watching at the precise moment the drop was recorded will have their names preserved for posterity.

What's more, the drop was never in free-fall. It simply collided with the 8th drop, which fell in 2000 and took most of the last 14 years to tip over. A second experiment, at Dublin's Trinity College, did actually capture a real free-fall pitch drop after its own 69-year wait. Still, that pitch flows at all is impressive, considering that its viscosity is 230 billion times that of water.

As you can imagine, watching the pitch drop in real time is an exercise in patience. Watching it extremely sped up, however — well, that's still fairly underwhelming to be honest. Still, watching two years pass in just a few seconds is pretty neat. As for the University of Queensland, since the pitch is still connected at its top, the experiment will go on, likely resulting in yet another drip of the stuff taking a another 14 years to fall into the bottom beaker. Unless you're really into tar dropping in a beaker, we recommend finding something else to do other than stare at its webcam feed all day, every day.

University of Queensland, via Phys.org

For the latest tech stories, follow DVICE on Twitter
at
@dvice or find us on Facebook