Space, Physics, and Math

VIDEO: Rock music

What makes these boulders ring?

June 28, 2017

Some unusual boulder fields lay scattered across Pennsylvania and New Jersey. What’s special? The rocks ring like bells when struck with a hammer.

Despite the rocks’ popularity, the question of why they ring has been largely abandoned by scientists. The only rudimentary answers appear in an obscure publication in 1970 by a Rutgers researcher who barely left a digital trace.

So Scienceline correspondents Harrison Tasoff and Marissa Shieh went out to one of these boulder fields with geologist Lawrence Malinconico of Lafayette College and composer Joseph Bertolozzi to experience and explain the ringing rocks.

About the Author

Marissa Shieh

Marissa Shieh graduated from Williams College with a B.A. in chemistry. She was a National Association of Science Writers Travel Fellow and a Jeffrey Owen Jones Fellow in Journalism. In hindsight, she realizes this was the only logical career after a childhood filled with National Geographic, Scientific American, and The New York Times. She loves Quantum Leap, Shakespeare in the Park, and MasterChef Junior. Her favorite punctuation mark is the em dash.
You can follow Marissa on Twitter here.

Discussion

1 Comment

You’ve obviously never heard of our famous Musical Bridge over the Owenmore River at Bellacorick in N. Mayo, Ireland? The capstone slabs of hard limestone ring out when struck with another stone.
If you haven’t heard of it either then stop and play it next time you’re driving on the N59 near the Ballycroy National Park, grid ref 54.116667, -9.583333. It’s magic!

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