Pitch drop experiment

The pitch drop experiment is a long-term experiment to observe the dropping behavior of pitch, a super- tough at room temperature substance, which is apparently a solid.


1927 began Thomas Parnell, a professor at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, with the preparations for the experiment. He poured heated pitch into a sealed funnel down and let the fabric three years in which to sit. 1930, the funnel was opened, the bad luck began to flow:

The first drop of rain fell in 1938, followed by others in 1947, 1954, 1962, 1970, 1979, 1988 and 2000.

The experiment does not take place under controlled conditions. In particular, temperature variations over the decades have influence on the sequence of drops. The installation of an air conditioning brought the experiment even only further confused since it takes warm summers and cold winters were now warm winter and cool summer. This had the consequence that the drop of 2000 is not replaced in the summer, but in winter. He was also so great that the space between the funnel and beaker was not sufficient to drain.

A falling drop has not been observed so far as to the corresponding points in time no eye was fixed on the experiment. Since the 1990s, the experiment is constantly monitored by a webcam. Yet on 28 November 2000 ie on the date on which the last drop fell so far, the camera refused their service, so there is no film recording of falling drop of this experiment.

However, in a similar experiment that was begun at Trinity College in Dublin in October 1944, it was possible to film the falling drops in July 2013.


Thomas Parnell ( posthumously ) was honored along with John Mainstone, who led the experiment after Parnell's death, in 2005, with the Ig Nobel Prize for scientific achievement, a satirical Prize from Harvard University for scientific achievements that can not be repeated or should not be repeated.