The mystery of stone forests: deceptively simple physics creates them

The mystery of stone forests: deceptively simple physics creates them

The amazing forms that nature is capable of manifesting are not the influence of otherworldly forces or the mysterious features of the planet. These are surprisingly simple conditions created by deceptive physics. The stone forests are as an example. A research has proven that they can form in traditional conditions without the interference of magic. For the experiment, the scientists needed sweet candies.

Their cylindrical shapes are able to transform naturally into spiky ones as they dissolve in water. On the basis of that simple phenomenon, one can explain how sharp stone peaks are formed where readily soluble limestone predominates.

The stone forests are not uncommon on our planet. They are found in China, Madagascar, Malaysia. Leif Ristrof, who is a physicist at New York University, said that a way to make a rocky forest with sharp peaks was found. Based on the experiment with lollipops, Ristrof proved how some structures can create themselves. The next step is to perform mathematical calculations to explain the sharpening effect of sharp edges.

As the lollipop dissolves in the water, sugar saturates the water next to the candy. The sugar-laden water sinks downwards, thus the dissolving candy creates its own flow, reducing the volume of the candy. Limestone and other soluble rocks differ significantly from sugar, but there are other factors that naturally help to form stone forests.

The chemical composition of rocks, loose deposits and winds play an important role. The creation of stone forests takes place at a time when the foundations of stone formations are submerged in water, and the simplicity of the experiment with candies proved the peculiarity of simple physical processes.

That experiment can be done even at home. Understanding the process of formation of various forms in nature reveals the history of the formation of objects. Be it a spaceship that flies into a distant planet and sends out relief images of it as the only key to observing a distant world.

These reliefs can be a confirmation of the presence of rivers, for example, on the Mars that becomes the first hint that there was once water on the Red Planet.