The deliciously titled and Tin Tin ready ‘The Sliding Rocks of the Racetrack Playa Mystery’, is a very real unsolved occurrence that takes place in the ominously named Death Valley, California. I’m not making this shit up. Its for real.
As the title of the mystery suggests, rocks within a particular five-kilometre stretch of Death valley (known as Racetrack Playa) have been recorded moving of their own accord. Leaving a trail in the dry riverbed, it has been speculated the rock’s (which can weigh up to 300kg) are in fact being moved to leave a coded message in the ground, for other inter galactic intelligent life, crop circle style. But this wild idea has only been able to take root as no one is sure how the rocks actually move. Their progress across the sand has never been seen with human eyes and to deepen the plot, they move at random, only once every two-to-three years. But move they do. Some in straight lines, some in perfect 90 degree turns. But there is some pattern to the madness. Those stones with rough bottoms leave straight striated tracks while those with smooth bottoms tend to wander aimlessly around the desolate plane. Dramatically, sometimes these immense conglomerates of carbon turn over, exposing another edge to the ground and leaving a different track in the stone’s wake.Rocks that start next to each other may travel parallel for a time, before one abruptly changes direction to the left, right, or even back the direction it came from. Trail length also varies – two similarly sized and shaped rocks may travel uniformly, then one could move ahead or stop in its track. The only consensus is that there is no clear consensus, but funnily, everyone agrees that neither humans or animals are responsible.
Enter the party police aka ‘Those Disinclined To Believe In Desert Ghosts or Sisyphean Aliens’. In typical fashion, these guys are beginning to piece together a rather dull and annoyingly compelling argument which sounds a little like this: The movement of the rocks is a rare union of wind, rain and ice.
But there are very specific combinations of the elements that the P.P deduce must be present. The dirt must be an icy mud, the winds must be strong and the surface area of the rocks must be increased by sheet ice to improve it’s wind catching abilities. Then, the stone is simply blown along.
How boring. Drearier even, than an afternoon trying on trousers.
But my moustache and I will stress that this explanation is just pure speculation. For every point, there is indeed a counter when it comes to the sailing stones. For instance, a notable geologists have gone on the record to say that this scenario couldn’t possibly be the answer. The rocks are just far too heavy to be moved in this irreverent manner. So there.
- Racetrack Playa Moving Rocks No Convincing Explanation Video (ramanan50.wordpress.com)
- The Mystery of the Sailing Stones (nowiknow.com)
- Balancing Stone Artist (markosun.wordpress.com)