The World’s Longest Experiment
This experiment started back as was back as 1927 when a professor of physics at the University of Queensland Australia wanted to prove that tar pitch has the same character of a liquid at room temperature. So professor Thomas Parnell used some melted tar pitch, a funnel and a beaker to demonstrate this. It took 3 years for the melted tar pitch to cool before he could place it within the funnel. The beaker was then placed under the funnel with the melted tar pitch. If it was water, it would have gone through the funnel and into the beaker without a moment’s notice but this was tar pitch that was melted.
It took 8 years for the very first drop of tar to roll into the beaker. The professor recorded the second drop 9 years after the first. It had taken 17 years for two drops of melted tar pitch to roll into the beaker. The professor passed away and did not witness the third droplet. But his death led to the experiment being set aside literarily. They did not dismantle it but moved it into a closet.
But one professor John Mainstone came along and brought it out of the closet after joining the university. This happened in 1961 which was some 34 years after the experiment was set up and it was still intact. Fourteen years later in 1975, the professor succeeded in convincing the authorities in the university to place the experiment in a sort of open display. By now it was already one of the longest running experiments if not the longest. The university did just that and when the internet age came along, the placed the experiment under the eyes of a dedicated webcam that is on 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The professor may have never imagined the number of people that would eventually get to view it.
According to the professor, the next drop would be happening by next year and it is expected that to have more people log on to watch but here is hoping that what happened the last time a droplet went down the funnel in the year 2000 does not repeat itself; at the very point of it happening the camera malfunctioned!