In 1927, Thomas Parnell, the first professor of physics at the University of Queensland started an experiment called the pitch drop experiment. The experiment is special. Because it is the world’s longest experiment in a laboratory. Parnell started this experiment by heating the pitch up and pouring it into a sealed funnel. He seated the funnel under a large bell jar. After 3 years, the physicist cut the stem of the sealed funnel and started waiting. He was waiting for the pitch’s dropping.
It will be almost a century since the start of the pitch-drop experiment. The pitch has dropped only nine times since that day. Parnell set the jar inside a protective plastic cube along with an analog Casio desk clock. With the help of the clock, both staff and students can observe each moment. A brass tripod holds the funnel aloft. In addition, a black balloon of pitch hovers above the beaker at the bottom.
After Parnell, John Mainstone took over the experiment. Mainstone is the one who popularized the experiment. His dedication to the experiment was so legendary for the world that he and Parnell won the IG Nobel Prize. This prize is a parody of the original Nobel Prize. So, the price was for satirical purposes. But it led to the pitch drop experiment becoming better known.
It is said that neither Parnell nor Mainstone could see a drop fall from the sky. There are stories about Mainstone’s sleepless days in order to see the drop fall. Currently, Professor Andrew White has been watching the pitch drop experiment since 2013. Professor White stated that the pitch can drop once every eight years. The pitch-drop experiment stays in the same place at the same temperature. So, nothing affects the drop of the pitch. We will eagerly wait for the time when the pitch drop experiment will end.