In Class Feb. 1: green blobs and moving… rocks?

In your groups, you’ll discuss one of these scenarios for about 3 minutes.

Slowly Sliding… Rocks?
racetrack stoneDonlar, hoping to cash in on the slow food, slow Internet, slow brain, slow everything movement, has become interested in setting up a resort at Racetrack Playa, a place where people can contemplate the vastness of time and epic nature of geological processes.
racetrack stone 2But first, he needs to verify that the “rocks” aren’t alive. If they were, he’d be disturbing their natural habitat, and worse, possibly in violation of the Endangered Species Act; no other such “creatures” or phenomena have been reported elsewhere as far as he knows. What studies or experiments can Don do for the sake of his entrepreneurial dreams? Come up with at least 3.

Green Blobs… as lawn furniture?
Llareta Conlar, while on a trip in the Andes, sees these green blobs and thinks there might be a lawn furniture opportunity here.
Llareta chilling But first, she needs to figure out if these things are alive so she can perhaps
– save a ton on shipping costs and just grow these things overseas, and
– avoid customers being upset about these things growing or dying unexpectedly, if they are alive.
What do you recommend Connie do to figure out if these green objects/entities are animal, mineral or vegetable, or at least mineral or not? Come up with at least 3 things she could try out.

If Don and Connie can only do one of your proposed studies, which would it be?

UPDATE: Now that we’ve discussed how we could investigate these situations, take a look at these two articles, if you want to find out more about these things:
The Verge: The mystery of Death Valley’s sailing stones has been solved
NPR: Intriguing Lime-Green Blobs Appear In The Andes Mountains. Are They Alive?

Also, great to see a focus on cells and DNA in our discussion on this; indeed, those things are specific to living things, but you have to be careful about checking for DNA… it’s everywhere, as described in this 60-Second Science episode.


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