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For at least a century, the “slithering stones” of Death Valley — rocks, some of them boulders weighing more than 600 pounds, that move across the desert floor and leave long trails behind them, have presented a puzzle, and researchers have been trying to solve it since 1948. This week, scientists placed GPS trackers on the stones, surrounded them with cameras, and were amazed to discover that the movement was caused by ice. The researchers discovered that on rare occasions when conditions are just right, with rain on the usually dried-up lake bed called the “Racetrack Playa,” followed by sunshine and wind, plates of thin ice push the rocks along the muddy desert floor, sometimes as quickly as several feet a minute

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