Moving Rocks in Death Valley National Park

A mysterious but unseen force is shoving huge boulders around in the desert. In Death Valley National Park, California, there is a strange region known as the the Racetrack Playa (a nearly level, dry lake bed). This playa is also known as the “Devil’s Racetrack.” There, rocks, some weighing more than 700 pounds, race about, leaving behind deep furrows.

Yet no one has ever seen them move.

In this haunted place, the boulders seem to get up and travel when no one is looking. It isn’t gravity , simply because because the rocks travel in all directions. Some furrows loop and cross; others just go straight.

One long-standing theory was that the movement was caused by wind. Then scientists went to the desert and conducted extensive experiments. They were able to determine that it would take wind speeds of 580 miles per hour to move a 700-pound boulder. This could not happen on earth.

Another theory was that under certain conditions, a thin sheet of ice formed on the floor of the basin. This would make it easier for the wind to move the rocks. Again a team went in. This time they studied the tracks left by the rocks, then analyzed them. They determined that ice sheets were not responsible for the movement either.

Once a corral of wooden stakes was placed around two of the rocks. The team then left. (Remember, the rocks won’t move when anyone is around.) When they returned, one rock had moved out, while the other stayed in the corral.

The rocks seem to slide rather than roll, but to this day, no one knows why. The only certainty is that something is either pushing or pulling them.

With technology forging ahead so rapidly, it is only a matter of time until the unknown force is identified. Once it is, do you think it could be harnessed? If it can move huge boulders, can it move a car? A plane? A ship? Could it end pollution?

Perhaps you will be the one to make the discovery. Of course you’ll have to go there for a time to conduct your experiments.

Just don’t pitch your tent next to any big rocks.

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