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World's longest lab experiment still going strong, via webcam

Amar Toor, @amartoo

In 1927, a physics professor named Thomas Parnell launched an experiment on viscous liquids. 85 years later, we're still waiting for his results. It all began with a funnel, a beaker, and some melted tar pitch. Parnell, a professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, was hoping to demonstrate that brittle tar pitch actually behaves as a liquid when kept at room temperature. To prove this, he melted some tar pitch, let it cool for three years, and placed it within the funnel, held over the beaker. The first drop rolled down the funnel eight years later. The second came nine years after that. By the time the third rolled around, Parnell had already passed away. Following his death, the experiment was shelved, quite literally, in a closet, before Professor John Mainstone revived it shortly after joining the University of Queensland in 1961. In 1975, Mainstone successfully lobbied the university to put the experiment on display, but he likely could've never imagined how large an audience it would ultimately have. Today, in fact, the experiment is on display 24 hours a day, via a dedicated webcam. It's been hailed as the world's longest running lab experiment, and it's available for gazing at the source link below. Mainstone expects the next drop to come down the pipeline sometime next year, but you probably shouldn't hold your breath. The last drop ran down the funnel in 2000. Unfortunately, it was never recorded on video, due to a very untimely camera malfunction.

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