Way out in the deep, deep emptiness of California’s Death Valley lies Racetrack Playa, a dried-up lakebed about three miles long and flat as a board. This part of the incredibly dry and hot desert valley may be surrounded by beautiful mountains, but Racetrack Playa doesn’t have much else to see—cracked desert earth and a bunch of rocks really—yet it draws in visitors like crazy. Why? It might have something to do with the supernatural floating rocks that move themselves:
Scientists have been studying the “sailing stones” here for decades in an effort to find out the driving force behind the moving rocks. There have been a number of scientific theories involving wind, rain and ice, the most recent comes from planetary scientist, Ralph Lorenz. Lorenz and a team tested a model that proves a rock covered in a sheet of ice can move with just a slight breeze.
“Basically, a slab of ice forms around a rock, and the liquid level changes so that the rock gets floated out of the mud. It’s a small floating ice sheet which happens to have a keel facing down that can dig a trail in the soft mud.”
While the theory seems to make sense, there are some less-scientificy folks out there who still want to believe there’s a supernatural or extraterrestrial element involved. How can you blame them though? I mean, look at the above photo taken by Paul Rojas; it captures the mystery perfectly.
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