Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Fun: Take a Look

For those of you who entered my Take a Look contest, today is a big day. It’s the day I announce the winner. And it’s the day I explain what caused this rock at Mount Wachusett in central Massachusetts to split right down the middle.

I received more than 100 entries from students all over the world, and they had all kinds of possible explanations.

Many of you thought the rock had been hit by lightning. Nope.

Some thought it was actually two rocks that just happened to be side by side. Nope.

Others suggested that the rock broke after rolling down a hill. Nope.

Quite a few of you said the rock might have been hit by a bomb or missile or other kind of weapon. Nope.

One of you thought the break might have been caused by an earthquake. Good guess. But nope.

A whole heap of you blamed erosion, which is so, so close, but not quite right. Erosion is when a rock is slowly worn away by the action of wind, water, or glaciers.

This rock, which is made of granite, has been sitting on in the same spot for a very long time (probably since the last ice age), and it definitely has felt the effects of erosion. See how its edges are rounded? See how some material seems to have been chipped away from the side of the rock facing us? Those are telltale signs of erosion.

But the crack is the result of a slightly different process called weathering. It happens when a rock is broken down by plant roots growing into cracks and crevices, repeated freezing and thawing, acid rain or snow, or other natural causes.

You see, my big hint was the location of the rock. Central Massachusetts has cold, icy winters. And over time, ice that formed on the rock froze and thawed, froze and thawed. Each year it cracked the rock a little bit more. Until finally the rock split in half. Rock may be tough and strong, but it's not indestructible.

Six contest entries had the correct answer. So I printed them out, folded them up, and put them in a bowl. Then my husband chose a winner.

Drum roll please . . . and the winners are Ravi and Anika Bajpai, who entered the contest together. Their entry even included a fantastic drawing. I was hoping that I could include it here, but I can't figure out how to incorporate a MacPaint drawing.

So Ravi and Anika will be receiving a signed copy of my book A Place for Butterflies.

There will be a new Take a Look photo contest after the holidays. Stay tuned.

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