Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mystery of the Sailing Stones

One of the stranger things in nature are the sailing stones in Death Valley, California.  From our basic understandings of nature and physics, we know that something can only move if there is sufficient force applied to it.  So for example, if you have a boulder that weighs two three or four hundred pounds and you want to push it across the ground, you need something that can apply enough force to do so.  What if I told you that these same boulders were somehow moving dozens or hundreds of meters and science could not explain it?  Impossible?  No.  Fact.

In one of the HOTTEST places in the world, there is a seasonally dry lake bed that is home to what we call sailing stones.  In this lake bed there are hundreds of rocks that seem to move completely on their own.  Now by move I don't mean walk around like a person I mean they move nanometer by nanometer.  The only reason we know they move is by the trails that they leave behind.  The lake bed that they occupy has been aptly named "the racetrack".

The mysterious stones slide on very smooth ground.  Some scientists think that the stones move through the lake bed when the mud is wet with help from the wind and ice crystals that build up on the rocks on cold desert nights.  This theory is often shot down because the stones move in the summer when the lake is dry and the temperatures are FAR above freezing.

What is more interesting is that every stone takes it's own path as is if they have minds of their own.

click on the pictures to see them in much higher quality.  Please leave your thoughts and comments.

source for pictures: google images

1 comment:

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