These Rocks Seemed To Slide Across The Desert On Their Own – Until Scientists Unlocked The Mystery

It’s December 2013, and scientists Jim and Richard Norris are at Racetrack Playa in California’s Death Valley National Park. There to check on an experiment that they are conducting, they suddenly hear crackling noises. And with that, Richard exclaims to his cousin, “This is it!”

But the Norrises weren’t in danger. They were at the playa to study rocks – more specifically, the phenomenon known as sliding rocks. That’s right: not only do some stones move, but they seemingly do so entirely on their own in unpredictable ways. And until the intrepid Norris cousins arrived in California, no one had ever actually seen this happen.

Rocks seemingly sliding by themselves isn’t anything new, though. Indeed, sailing stones appear to exist in a handful of places on the planet. But while there had been theories as to why the rocks at Racetrack Playa moved, there had been precious little scientific confirmation of any of these hypotheses. The Norrises, then, had decided to head to California to try to solve the puzzle for good.

Of course, Mother Nature has been blowing the minds of the general population for centuries. This state of confusion is sometimes only temporary, though, however, as our ever greater understanding of the biology, physics and chemistry of Earth helps us figure out plausible explanations for even the most unusual phenomena.

Take, for instance, the sudden appearance of a new island off the coast of Japan. Yes, in 2013 an entirely new land mass materialized around 600 miles from Tokyo. Many centuries ago, we may have assumed that this was some kind of reverse Atlantis situation; however, these days, we know a little more about how land formation occurs.