Science Of...

The Pitch Drop Experiment Has Been Going On For More Than 85 Years

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In 1927, Professor Thomas Parnell thought up a way to demonstrate the counterintuitive properties of certain materials. He set up a funnel of pitch, and let it set for three years before placing it over a jar. The pitch appears solid, but is actually an incredibly viscous liquid, and from 1930 until today, it has been slowly but steadily dripping into the container below. As of 2016, nine drops have fallen from the funnel, with each one taking around 8 to 13 years to separate completely. Scientists have estimated that the pitch is about 100 billion times more viscous than water.