Good morning everyone.
Sometime in 1927, a Professor Thomas Parnell of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, decided to demonstrate to his students that some materials that appear to be solid at room temperature are actually extremely viscous fluids. The material he chose for his experiment was a variety of pitch called bitumen. At room temperature pitch appears to be a solid, to the point where if you hit it with a hammer it will shatter. Parnell heated up a quantity of pitch and poured it into a sealed funnel, and let it settle for three years (talk about long prep times). He then (in 1930) cut the seal on the funnel and let the pitch flow into a beaker. And flow it does: very, very, slowly. Droplets form and fall at the rate of about 1 per decade, with the eighth drop falling on 28 November 2000. The ninth drop is due literally at any time, and the fact that no one has witnessed any of the drops falling so far must be troubling to the experimenters. The university rigged up a webcam in 2000, but it was glitchy when the most recent drop fell and missed it. Maybe this time…
The current group of experimenters have measured the viscosity of the bitumen pitch for lack of anything else to do, and found that it is about 230 billion (2.3×1011) times the viscosity of water. There may be more viscous liquids in the world, but I can’t think of any offhand (I’ve been up too long and my recollection ability is a bit iffy right now. Urrrgh, too much coffee…). Don’t bring up glass as a candidate because glass is not a liquid but an amorphous solid you myth loving credulous cretin(s). Hmph. Some fool trying to be clever brings that up every year and it’s gotten tiresome.
The Guinness Book of World Records records The Pitch Drop Experiment as the world’s longest continuously running laboratory experiment, and there is evidently enough pitch remaining in the funnel for the experiment to continue for another 100 years or so. This record may stand for a while, eh?