Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Webcast: Pitch Drop Experiment Nears Ninth Drop

The University of Queensland is offering people around the world the chance to add their name to the world's longest running laboratory experiment, the Pitch Drop.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The experiment was established in 1927 to demonstrate the high viscosity of pitch, which looks like a solid but behaves like a fluid over an extended timeframe.

The Pitch Drop Experiment is basically a lump of pitch in a glass funnel.

Eight drops of pitch have fallen in 86 years, but no-­one has ever seen one fall.

A new website, theninthwatch.com, will log watchers from all time zones to record who is logged in when the ninth Pitch Drop falls.

With signs of the stem narrowing, the ninth drop is set to fall at any time.

The Ninth Watch is dedicated to Professor John Mainstone, who was Pitch Drop custodian for 52 years until he died in August without seeing a drop fall.

“It will be possible for them to be part of history,” he said in July this year, referring to the large base of Pitch Drop fans from around the world.

Professor Andrew White is the Pitch Drop's new custodian.

“The names of people logged in to the site when it falls, and their observations, will be added to the official records, so it's their shot at immortality,” Professor White said.

The Pitch Drop has eluded the world and its...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.