The University of Queensland’s Physics building completed in 1955 was later renamed after UQ’s first lecturer and Professor in Physics, Thomas Parnell. Built from Helidon sandstone, the Parnell building is one of the historic buildings which encircles The Great Court. A grotesque above the entrance to the building represents the famous physics’ thought experiment known as the theory of Schrödinger’s cat.
The building continues to be used for teaching and research in Physics and plays host to the ARC Centre for Excellence in Quantum Physics on Level 3 and the historic Physics Museum on Level 2 accessible from The Great Court.
The Physics Museum houses a collection of instruments, books and memorabilia dating back to the very beginning of UQ. Among other things, it offers visitors an insight into how things used to be done, and the opportunity to see how to use a slide rule, computer punch cards, computer magnetic memory, a 1 meter searchlight mirror, and to shake hands with their own image.
Among the hundreds of items on display you can find ten items, or small groups of items, chosen to represent the research which has been carried on in Physics over the last hundred years. Each represents a decade of our history and has a special label to pick it out.
In a glass cabinet across the foyer from the Physics Museum, visitors can view the famous Pitch Drop Experiment which holds a Guinness World Record for the Longest Running Laboratory Experiement in the World. Started in 1927, by Professor Parnell, the Pitch Drop Experiment was established to prove that a solid can behave like a fluid. In the past 92 years, only nine drops of the tar-like substance have dropped through the funnel.
Frequency of Guided Tours: Meet our museum curator for amazing insights into the displays. No formal tour times.
Great for kids
Is Heritage listed