Weekly Science Picks

Science Sunday! What better way to spend the day than to kick back and let some of the week’s best science stories come to you.

Firstly, right here on Australian Science, Markus tells the story of the world’s slowest experiment — that is still going.

The World’s Slowest Experiment

“This curious looking setup is the pitch drop experiment. Some people reading this will undoubtedly know of it. Set up at the University of Queensland in 1927 by Professor Thomas Parnell, this experiment may take a few of your ideas about what a liquid actually is and turn them on their heads. Pitch, you see, is a liquid. But if you were to see some of it up close, you might not think so. To our eyes and senses, it appears to be a solid. It’s a black, waxy looking substance, a derivative of tar which ship builders used to use to waterproof boats. You can think of it more or less like a liquid which moves in slow motion. Extremely slow motion! Pitch is so viscous and flows so slowly that you can quite easily pick up a piece of it and hold it in your hands. You can snap pieces of it off, and if you hit it with a hammer, it will even shatter. But make no mistake – pitch is not a solid.