You know those sliding rocks?

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You know those sliding rocks?

PostPosted by verdilak » Fri Jun 17, 2011 2:28 am

Well, there is a new paper out that suggests that the sliding rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley, California which have mystified and delighted visitors for decades might be caused by ice rafts: ice rafts float the rocks out of the mud, reducing friction enough that modest winds can push them along (PDF of Lorenz et al., American Journal of Physics, Vol. 79, 1 January 2011).

Note: nobody has actually seen the rocks in motion, since they only move every few years for a few seconds at a time.

Don't miss the low-tech experiment in the AJP article - in addition to theoretical calculations the authors provide experimental evidence in support of their theory using a small rock, a Tupperware container of water, a baking sheet filled with sand, and a home freezer (p 39 - 40). High school science fair project, anyone?
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