We know about the four phases of matter: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma.

But what about materials that exhibit properties of more than one phase?

In 1927, physics professor at the University of Queensland in Australia Thomas Parnell began such an experiment that is still going on today!

In fact, it holds the Guinness World Record for the longest-running experiment.

Dr. Parnell began this experiment to show that common materials can have many different properties; specifically, he showed that pitch, a tar-based substance used to waterproof boats, had such a high viscosity that at room temperature,

it behaved more like a solid than a liquid.

He boiled a sample of pitch and poured it into a funnel with a sealed stem, leaving it for three years to let the pitch settle.

After that time, he broke the seal to the funnel and recorded when the pitch dripped.

Since 1930, the pitch has dropped exactly 9 times, with the last drop occurring on April 24th, 2014.

It is estimated that the pitch has a viscosity 230 billion times that of water!

You can view the experiment via 24 hour live webcam feed and learn more about the experiment at the department website: http://smp.uq.edu.au/content/pitch-drop-experiment


Picture credits go to the University of Queensland.