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Walking Rocks?

Query: When I was in Death Valley earlier this year, I saw some enormous 750-pound rocks that appear to travel across the desert on their own. I remembered your article about rock tortoises, and wondered if that’s what these rocks could be?




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Walking Rocks?

Query: When I was in Death Valley earlier this year, I saw some enormous 750-pound rocks that appear to travel across the desert on their own. I remembered your article about rock tortoises, and wondered if that’s what these rocks could be?

Answer: We heard about these moving rocks some years ago here at Iranigami, and were just as curious as you are about them.

The rocks you’re talking about appear to travel by themselves, leaving distinctive trails, but nobody has ever seen them actually moving about, which makes them very mysterious.

An Iranigami agent went to investigate this phenomenon in the 1960s. After lengthy study, she determined that the rocks were rocks, and not rock tortoises, and therefore not Imaginaries. However, like many before her, she was unable to explain how they moved.

More recently, scientist Ralph Lorenz from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory conducted an experiment that might explain how these rocks are able to travel by themselves. He dropped a rock in water and put it in the freezer, so that the rock was coated with ice. He then placed the rock on sand, and blew on it. The icy rock sailed easily across the sand in even a light “breeze,” leaving a trail behind.

While it’s still not clear how these desert rocks, located in such a dry climate, would become so icy that they could be pushed around by the wind on the sand, it’s the most probable explanation we have at this time.

Thank you for calling these “mystery rocks” to our attention!

 


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