Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sailing stones that defy physics

This picture shows some examples of one of the weirdest things on our planet - rocks that zoom around the desert (well, zoom in geological time frames) but no-one knows how they manage it. Some of these rocks have masses over 300 kg. The go uphill, downhill, change directions, keep going straight or don't move at all depending on ... actually we have no idea what their movement depends on.

There are a number of theories. Rain, wind, fog, ice or dew are all on the cards, but there are a number of problems with these. First, it's a desert. Not much precipitation of any kind. Second, if it was just wind, it doesn't explain why some rocks move one way, but there could be a rock right next to it that goes the other way, and another that doesn't move at all. There should be some sort of consistency.

This one is just crazy.

No one has ever seen a rock move. They seem to be extremely shy. One guy tried to use geosynchronous satellites to track their movements. He came up with some interesting data, but still has no idea how or why the rocks move.

One of the latest theories currently being researched is that the rocks are subject to a magnetic effect. From a physics point of view, it's one of those things that don't make a lot of sense. For movement to occur, there must be a force. I guess it just shows that there are some things we don't yet fully understand.

Lord Kelvin said in the 1900's: "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now." 

I respectfully disagree.

No comments:

Post a Comment