The Tantalizing Mystery of Death Valley's "Sailing Stones" is Finally Solved!

Khryss | Published 2017-05-07 12:12
Rocks, rocks, rocks. Inanimate objects that just seem to be really tough. And it's no-brainer that these don't move, right? I mean, how could they? It's only when you kick it or knock it over that it finally rolls. Well, ladies and gentlemen, let me break it to you: we are so fcking wrong! SOME. ROCKS. CAN. MOVE. INDEPENDENTLY. They don't need any of our help, no thanks! (And I'm not talking about any psychedelic experiences either!) How? Apparently, early scientists were as clueless as you are- until now. "The first scientific study was done 1948 and then there was a succession of scientific papers," the recent study's author and an oceanographer at University of California San Diego, Richard Norris, said. "Every ten years or so somebody published a new paper on the Racetrack, but nobody is basing their scientific career on this kind of work. It's just a really fun sort of mystery." So where did these rocks exist? In a wide, flat, desert basin in the middle of Death Valley National Park called Racetrack Playa- the home of the "sailing stones". And thanks to Norris' team, the reason for this unusual phenomenon isn't a mystery anymore. They first attached specially-designed GPS units to the back of rocks since it is rare to see these in motion (they just leave long trails behind them) and then installed a weather station. After quite some time (two years to be exact; no biggie) of painfully waiting, the rocks moved! What's more tantalizing is that completely by chance, the researchers were able to witness them in action! "They found that when enough rain fell on the playa to pool, and the temperature dropped, the water would freeze into huge, thin sheets of ice around the rocks—which tumble onto the playa from a nearby hillside. As the morning sun began to melt the ice, if a gentle breeze blew, it could move the ice, which dragged the rocks along with it," as Motherboard author Kaleigh Rogers explained. So yeah, none of those paranormal explanations, just the unusual, and unique combination of ice, wind, and sun! "Science is delightful," Norris said. [embed][/embed]
Hey! Where are you going?? Subscribe!

Get weekly science updates in your inbox!