The Sailing Stones of Death Valley

This is beautiful mystery of nature: on a dry lake bed in Death Valley in California, rocks are moving around and no one knows exactly how or why. The rocks leave tracks in the dirt and they appear to move sometimes at speeds faster than a human walking. Yet, no one has ever seen one move. The sailing stones of Racetrack Playa have inspired many theories: from aliens, gravitational abnormalities and compressed gasses in the rocks to wind, water and ice pushing them around.

This is beautiful because it is such a poetic and stubborn mystery. For decades researchers have tried to figure this out. But so far no one has ever observed the actual event. Probably it is also not really a huge scientific priority. Sailing StoneIt’s not like solving the “mystery of the sailing stones” would earn a scientist a Nobel prize. But the effort to figure this out would be considerable. This is a very remote and hostile environment, with brutal temperature changes, hurricane-force winds and sudden flash-floods. The stones apparently may not move for years, and when they move they do it suddenly.

And yes – they have attached GPS devices and eventually someone will set up a camera with a motion detection system and capture a the mysterious event. But until then, we get to enjoy the mystery. It’s good to know that there are still such strange puzzles out there. This one feels a little bit as though nature had a sense of humor.

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