from the wanted-one-inactive-individual-to-watch-something-eventually-fall dept.
Two contributors, Adrian Harvey and wirelessduck report, on a long-running experiment that has taken 84 years for someone to observe:
The pitch drop experiment at the University of Queensland has finally been observed producing a drop. Widely considered the world's longest running experiment, it was started 83 years ago in 1927. It was designed to show that even some solid-seeming substances like pitch will flow like a liquid given sufficient time. The flow is about an order of magnitude slower than the continental drift of the ground it's on! The experiment has produced drops before, but only when no one was watching. The last drop in 2000 even had a WebCam set up to watch it but the power went out just when the drop fell.
The pitch has dropped - again. This time, the glimpse of a falling blob of tar, also called pitch, represents the first result for the world's longest-running experiment. Sadly however, the glimpse comes too late for a former custodian, who watched over the experiment for more than half a century and died a year ago. Up-and-running since 1930, the experiment is based at the University of Queensland in Australia and seeks to capture blobs of pitch as they drip down, agonisingly slowly, from their parent bulk.
[Editor's Note: The discrepancy in the dates between the two articles is as they were reported. Obviously, at least 1 is incorrect, but the TFS does not change source material]