Trivia

Hard

The Longest Running Scientific Experiment Centers Around What?

Wheat Plants
A Jar of Pitch
African Swallows
A Russian Bore Hole

Answer: A Jar of Pitch

The longest running experiment in the history of modern science is a simultaneously interesting yet stupendously boring one that, despite peoples best efforts, has never actually been directly observed.

In 1927 at the University of Queensland, one Professor Thomas Parnell patiently began a long-term experiment in order to prove to his students that some substances which appear to be solid are actually extremely high-viscosity fluids. These fluids appear solid at room temperature and, when struck with a hammer, will even shatter, but will in fact move and reform over extended periods of times. Demonstrating such movement is a task for the steadfast.

To that end Dr. Parnell heated a sample of pitch (the bitumen variety historically used to waterproof ships), poured it into a sealed glass funnel, waited three years for it to settle, and then in 1930 he broke the seal to begin the flow process.

Over eight years later, in December of 1938, the first drop fell. Another eight years after that, in 1947, the second drop fell. All told, the experiment has been running nearly a century and a scant 8 drops have fallen. While pitch might be viscous, its viscosity is a staggering 230 billion times that of water. Entire empires could rise and fall before a pitch drop experiment finished filling a gallon jug.

Currently, the experiment is curated by the School of Mathematics and Physics on the University’s St. Lucia campus. The temperature controlled environment of the building it is on display in has slowed the rate of movement to one drop roughly every 12 years. The last drop fell in the fall of 2000 which means we’re due for a new drop any day now–for those of you looking for a cheap and slow-moving thrill, the University has a web cam trained on the experiment at all times.

Trivia

Easy

Free Ice Machines Are A Fixture In Hotels Across America Thanks To Which Hotel?

Trivia

Hard

John Snow, “Father of Epidemiology”, Earned His Title By Determining The Source Of?

Trivia

Very Hard

The First Major-Label Recording Artist To Release A Digital Album Was?

Trivia

Easy

Where Do Venomous Snakes Outnumber Non-venomous Snakes?

Trivia

Easy

Which Prominent Astrophysicist Is Strongly Against Extraterrestrial Communication Efforts?

Trivia

Hard

Teleprompters Are A Practical Use Of An Old Illusionist’s Trick Known As?

Trivia

Easy

Many Airlines, To Prevent Disruption Of Cockpit Operations, Require Their Pilots and Co-Pilots To?

Trivia

Easy

In The Early 20th Century City-Dwelling Mothers Would Put Their Babies In What Curious Contraption?

Trivia

Hard

Which Planet Did Carl Sagan Want To Terraform First?

Trivia

Easy

The Majority Of History’s Massive Volcanic Eruptions Have Occurred Where?