It is sad to learn that professor John S. MAINSTONE (Ger.) died (obituary, Nachruf) without having seen the pitch drop (Ger., Eng.). While he curated the experiment two drops fell, but he did not witness the first one, because he had just went to fetch a cup of coffee. The second one went undocumented because the installed webcam failed. Luckier were his colleagues at the Trinity college in Dublin who run a similar experiment – their drop can be seen falling. I find it a bit unfair that he was awarded the Ig-Noble (Ger., Eng.) in 2005 for Physics, but of course he went there to collect his price (see winner list here) – in stark contrast to the winners for literature that year, who shunned the ceremony.
Very impressive, imho, was the exploration that was awarded the price in 2012 in the field of Neuroscience, for showing that the use of advanced instruments and simple statistics can proof the occurrence of brain activity everywhere, even in a dead salmon (pdf). We still do not know what a dead salmon thinks, but it may just be a matter of time until we can solve this riddle too.
In between I can confess that I prefer MAINSTONE’s experiment: It is simple, everyone can understand what is going on, no failure-prone and unnecessary equipment (the camera went dead when the drop fell!) – and, best of all: No statistics.
Sad that he was not allowed to see the pitch drop.
The 2013 ceremony will be held on 12th of September, 18:00, Sanders Theater, Harvard, webcast available.