12 September 2006
Thickest Liquid Ever
Pitch is such a thick liquid that under normal circumstances you would never suspect its true nature. If you had a lump of it in front of you and took a hammer and gave it a good smack (infinitively satisfying and consistent with normal scientific procedure), it would shatter very much like glass.
In 1927 Professor Thomas Parnell, of University of Queensland, started an experiment. He melted a portion of pitch and poured it into a glass funnel with the tube sealed at the bottom. After cooling and left to settle for three years the tube was cut open in 1930 and the pitch have since been allowed to flow freely into a beaker placed underneath the funnel. In that time only eight drops have fallen and the ninth have only just begun to form.
Pitch can be made from plant material and is then called rosin and when it is made from petroleum it is called bitumen, which is one of the main ingredient of road paving.
Eight drops in 76 years? My private theory is that it is also the main ingredient in tomato ketchup.
Would you like to know more?
The Pitch Drop Experiment