CLOSE
Original image
Getty Images

11 Things You Didn't Know About Death Valley

Original image
Getty Images

Death Valley is a land of extremes—extreme temperatures, altitudes, and environmental occurrences. Because of this, it’s been the catalyst for some of the most unusual natural and historical phenomena this planet has ever seen. And since it’s mostly uninhabitable, evidence of these extraordinary things has remained intact much longer than it would have elsewhere. Here are a few things you may not have known about the natural wonder.

1. THE ART MADE BY PEOPLE IN DEATH VALLEY DATES BACK THOUSANDS OF YEARS.

Some of the oldest records of man can be found painted and chiseled on the rocks of Death Valley. A few of those pieces are thought to have been made by the people of the Mesquite Flat Culture, who lived in the Valley from 3000 BCE to 1 CE. However, thanks to carbon dating, it is now believed that most came from Saratoga Spring Culture that resided there between 500 and 1000 CE.

2. DEATH VALLEY HOLDS THE RECORD FOR THE HIGHEST TEMPERATURE EVER RECORDED.

Death Valley is known for its hot, subtropical, desert climate. Visitors can typically expect long, hot summers, and short, mild winters. However, July 10, 1913 wasn't typical. That day, the temperature in Furnace Creek (an area of Death Valley) hit 134°F, the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth at the time. The area held the record for nearly 10 years, until residents of El Azizia, Libya experienced a reported high of 136.4°F in September 1922.

Nearly a century later, the World Meteorological Organization determined that the Libya record was the result of the operator misreading the thermometer and the temperature was deemed invalid. So in September 2012, the record was officially returned to Death Valley.

3. IT'S HOME TO OVER 1000 DIFFERENT SPECIES OF PLANTS.

Despite its extreme temperatures and harsh environment, Death Valley has surprisingly diverse plant life. Some take up residence on the valley floor, and have adapted to the meager amount of precipitation by growing incredibly long roots. These roots either shoot down up to 100 feet to grab moisture from the lower soil levels, or span wide to collect any amount of moisture they can from the atmosphere. They also have special leaves that slow evaporation, allowing them to hold onto moisture as long as possible.

4. THE VALLEY EXPERIENCES 'TSUNAMIS' WHEN EARTHQUAKES HAPPEN ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD.

There’s a deep, water-filled chasm in Death Valley National Park called “Devil’s Hole.” It’s home to the endangered Devil’s Hole Pupfish, a species that may have been residing there for up to 20,000 years. It's not the chasm's only impressive feature. The water in the hole reacts to seismic activity around the world. If there’s a giant earthquake in Japan, chances are it will be making some waves in Devil’s Hole. Here’s an example of how a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in Oaxaca, Mexico impacted the area in 2012.

5. IT PLAYED A PART IN THE ORIGINAL STARS WARS MOVIES.

Getty Images

It may not surprise you that Death Valley was the ideal spot to shoot many of the scenes that took place on Luke’s desert planet of Tatooine in the 1977 film Star Wars IV: A New Hope. According to Star Wars experts, over a dozen scenes were shot there, including the ones where the droids escape, where R2 gets attacked by Jawas, and the establishing shot of Mos Eisley Cantina. One expert in particular, Steve Hall, actually went there and mapped them all out, in case you want to take a self-guided tour.

6. THIS YEAR, DEATH VALLEY IS EXPERIENCING AN INCREDIBLY RARE 'SUPER BLOOM.'

With an average annual rainfall of just two inches, Death Valley is not known for its floral displays. But this year is the exception. While the rest of the country has been enduring heavy rains and strangely warm winter days due to El Niño, the Valley’s had heavy rainfall in the fall and then more moderate weather.

These perfect conditions allowed for an exceptionally unusual event to occur on the valley floor—a sudden flood of blooming flowers. According to park ranger Alan Van Valkenburg, flowers do occasionally bloom all over Death Valley, but this concentrated bloom only happens about once every decade.

"You never know when it's going to happen," Van Valkenburg said in a YouTube video on the subject. "It's a privilege to be here and get to see one of these blooms. Very few people get to see it, and it's incredible."

7. DEATH VALLEY RECEIVED ITS NAME FROM PIONEERS WHO THOUGHT IT WOULD CLAIM THEIR LIVES.

Photographersnature, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

In 1849, a group of pioneers who were searching for gold out west lost their way in Death Valley—and were certain it would be the end of them. However, as far as history knows, only one member of their party actually perished. They were rescued by two young men, but were forever haunted by their journey through the desolate wasteland. Legend has it that as they left they area, one of the surviving travelers stated, "Goodbye, Death Valley." They would be come to be known as “The Lost 49ers” and the area would take on that ominous nickname.

8. THERE ARE MORE THAN 100 GHOST TOWNS AND MINES IN DEATH VALLEY.

It wasn't just the destination of The Lost 49ers. Death Valley was on many gold seekers’ routes out west. During the mid to late 19th century, small towns sprung up throughout the area, as more and more travelers began using the Valley as a sort of pit stop. This became even more common when thousands of gold, silver, copper, and borax mines started appearing out west. However, the primitive technology and scarcity of water made mining difficult. When the gold rush started to peter out, these midpoint towns began to close up shop. While most have been eroded by time and the elements, some still remain to this day. You can find them on this handy chart.

9. IT'S HOME TO SCOTTY'S CASTLE—A SELF-SUSTAINED MANSION THAT WASN'T OWNED BY A MAN NAMED SCOTTY.

William E. Scott, or Scotty, as he was commonly known, convinced a Chicago millionaire named Albert Mussey Johnson to invest in property in Death Valley. Scotty told Johnson there was plenty of gold to be had in a local mine, but when that turned out to be false, the two men struck up an unlikely friendship.

In 1922, they began building a house on Johnson’s 1500 acres in the Grapevine Valley region of Death Valley. Because the land was located below a healthy spring, the partners used the flowing water to power the house. They had a Pelton wheel that powered a generator, which took care of all the house’s electrical needs.

10. DEATH VALLEY IS HOME TO THE LOWEST POINT IN THE UNITED STATES.

The Valley’s Badwater Basin is a staggering 282 feet below sea level. It’s less than 100 miles from Mount Whitney, which happens to be the highest point in the contiguous United States. There is a low level of “bad water” (where the site gets it name) in the basin from a nearby spring that is undrinkable, but it attracts a good deal of flora and fauna.

11. DEATH VALLEY HAS MYSTERIOUS, SAILING STONES.

Over the past 100 years, visitors have noticed that the rocks in Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa would leave trails behind them in the sand in varying patterns. Many different theories developed to try and explain the apparent movement, from changing magnetic fields to slippery algae. Finally, scientists (and cousins) Richard and Jim Norris set out to crack the mystery.

After several years, they pinpointed the movement down to what happens when the Valley floor freezes over, then cracks and melts suddenly when the sun comes up. The broken ice is then blown across the surface of the playa by winds, and pushes the rocks enough to get them moving, and the slippery surface allows them to go quite the distance—sometimes up to the length of two football fields. The two cousins were lucky enough to witness the rare phenomenon once, but they believe their work is far from over since they didn’t see the larger, 700 pound boulders budge.

Original image
Scott Jarvie
arrow
Design
Optical Illusion Rug Creates a Bottomless Void in Your Floor
Original image
Scott Jarvie

Artist Scott Jarvie doesn’t believe home goods need to be warm and inviting to earn a spot in the house. That’s certainly the case with his mind-bending void rug: When viewed from a certain perspective, the interior design piece inspires feelings of dread rather than comfort.

According to designboom, Jarvie achieved the rug’s bottomless black hole illusion using clever, two-dimensional design elements. To people standing directly over it, the item resembles a shaded crescent moon cupping a flat black circle. But adjust your position, and the simple rug morphs into a stomach-turning void in the middle of your living room floor.

If the circular rug isn’t trippy enough, Jarvie also made a rectangular runner that can turn an entire hallway into an empty pit. Neither rug is something you’d want to forget you own on a midnight trip to the bathroom.

Void rug optical illusion.

Jarvie’s art isn’t limited to floor rugs that trick the eye. The Scotland-based artist’s creative furniture and home decor includes laundry balls, a cling wrap dispenser, and a chair made from 10,000 plastic drinking straws.

Void rug optical illusion.

Void rug optical illusion.

[h/t designboom]

All images courtesy of Scott Jarvie.

Original image
Amazon
arrow
Smart Shopping
This Week's Best Amazon Deals You Can Still Get
Original image
Amazon

As a recurring feature, we share some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. These items were the ones that were the most popular with our readers this week, and they’re still available.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers (including Amazon) and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

GADGETS, TOYS, AND MEDIA

Funko Pop Television Bob Ross Collectible Figure for $9.99 (list price $10.99)

SanDisk Ultra CZ48 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Transfer Speeds Up To 100MB/s-SDCZ48-032G-UAM46 for $11.99 (list price $19.99)

[Upgraded to 6700mAh] Anker Astro E1 Candy-Bar Sized Ultra Compact Portable Charger, External Battery Power Bank, with High-Speed Charging PowerIQ Technology (Black) for $16.99 (list price $59.99)

Mpow Car Phone Mount,CD Slot Car Phone Holder Universal Car Cradle Mount with Three-Side Grips and One-Touch Design for iPhone 8/8Plus/7/7Plus/6s/6P/5S, Galaxy S5/S6/S7/S8, Google, LG, Huawei and More for $9.99 (list price $23.99)

Solar Charger, 10000mAh Solar Power Bank Portable Battery Pack Cellphone Charger with 2 LED Flashlights, Solar Panel with Compass and Carabiner for IOS and Android Cellphones(Orange) for $23.99 (list price $69.99)

Anker 60W 10-Port USB Wall Charger, PowerPort 10 for iPhone 7 / 6s / Plus, iPad Pro / Air 2 / mini, Galaxy S7 / S6 / Edge / Plus, Note 5 / 4, LG, Nexus, HTC and More for $32.99 (list price $99.99)

Dutch Blitz for $8.96 (list price $12.99)

OontZ Angle 3 PLUS Edition 10W+ Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Richer Bass, 30-Hour Playtime, Dual Proprietary Drivers for Superior Sound, Water Resistant IPX5 Wireless Speaker by Cambridge SoundWorks for $33.99 (list price $89.99)

LEGO Classic Creative Supplement 10693 for $16.19 (list price $19.99)

Cambivo Bluetooth Headphones, Wireless Earbuds w/Noise Cancellation Microphone, IPX7 Waterproof HD Stereo Sweatproof Earphones, for Running, Gym and Workout 10 Hour Battery Headset for $19.99 (list price $49.99)

NEXGADGET Detachable Multi-Port USB Charging Station, 24W 4-Port USB Charging Dock (Gold) for $29.99 (list price $69.99)

KITCHEN

Ado Glo Kitchen Shears - Stainless Steel Multi-Function Kitchen Scissors with Sharp Blade - Professional Poultry Shears for $12.95 (list price $49.99)

TedGem 6 Pack Silicone Stretch Lids, Various Sizes Expandable Durable Reusable Silicone Stretch Wrap, BPA FREE , Heat Resistant, Dishwasher, Microwave and Oven Safe Stretch Lids Covers for $9.98 (list price $19.99)

OMorc Ice Cube Trays 4 Pack, Easy-Release Silicone and Flexible 14-Ice Trays with Spill-Resistant Removable Lid, LFGB Certified & BPA Free, Stackable Durable and Dishwasher Safe for $12.99 (list price $29.99)

Fred UNZIPPED Hand-Blown Glass Bowl for $17.12 (list price $20.00)

MIRA 34 oz Double Wall All Stainless Steel French Press For Coffee or Tea | Insulated Coffee Pot & Maker Keeps Brewed Coffee or Tea Warm for Hours (34 oz French Press with Bonus Long Spoon) for $19.99 (list price $44.99)

Utopia Kitchen Premium Class Stainless-Steel 12 Knife Set with Acrylic Stand for $35.69 (list price $299.99)

GDEALER Waterproof Meat Thermometer Digital Super Fast Instant Read Thermometer BBQ Thermometer with Calibration and Backit Function Cooking Thermometer for Food, Candy, Milk, Tea, BBQ Grill Smokers for $14.99 (list price $33.99)

Emoji Party Wine Charm Set of 12 Funny Unique Emojies Silicone Suction Theme Label Champagne Glass Bottle Mug Glassware Marker Accessories Gift Idea for Women Men Boy Girl kid Happy Birthday for $6.99 (list price $20.99)

SimpleTaste Egg Cooker Egg Steamer Electric Egg Poacher Egg Boiler 7 Egg Capacity for $17.99 (list price $28.99)

The Original GORILLA GRIP (TM) Set of 3 Non-Slip Reversible Cutting Boards, BPA Free, FDA Approved Materials (Set of 3 Boards: Black) for $17.99 (list price $39.99)

Crock-Pot 6 Qt 8-in-1 Multi-Use Express Crock Programmable Slow Cooker, Pressure Cooker, Sauté, and Steamer, Stainless Steel (SCCPPC600-V1) for $67.99 (list price $79.99)

Sistema Klip It Collection Cracker Food Storage Container, Large, 60 Ounce/ 7.5 Cup for $8.70 (list price $12.49)

Icicle Funnel Collapsible Set of 2, Foldable Funnel for Liquid Transfer 100% Food Grade Silicone (Blue & Green) for $5.97 (list price $11.20)

Blendtec TB-621-25 Total Blender Classic with WildSide+ Jar, Black (Certified Refurbished) for $189.99 (list price $224.97)

Kitchen Utensils - 8 Piece Cooking Utensils - Nonstick Utensil Set - Silicone and Stainless Steel Kit - For Pots and Pans - Serving Tongs, Spoon, Spatula Tools, Pasta Server, Ladle, Strainer, Whisk for $24.95 (list price $59.99)

Waiters Corkscrew by HiCoup – Professional Grade Natural Rosewood All-in-one Corkscrew, Bottle Opener and Foil Cutter, the Favoured Choice of Sommeliers, Waiters and Bartenders Around the World for $10.44 (list price $25.95)

Set of 9 Grey Beverage Chilling Stones [Chill Rocks] Whiskey Stones for Whiskey and other Beverages - in Gift Box with Velvet Carrying Pouch - Made of 100% Pure Soapstone - by Quiseen for $10.00 (list price $18.99)

HOME

Printed Blackout Room Darkening Color Block Grommet Curtain Panel 52 inch wide by 84 inch long - Decorative Curtains by Utopia Bedding (Printed Grey) for $21.99 (list price $39.99)

URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser 130ml Wood Grain Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Oil Diffuser with Adjustable Mist Mode Waterless Auto Shut-off humidifier and 7 Color Changing LED Lights for Home Office Baby for $21.99 (list price $49.99)

Portable Garment Steamers for Clothes, Aicok 200ml High Capacity Handheld Travel Clothes Steamer, 900W Fast-Heat Powerful Fabric Steamer Perfect for Home and Travel, with Brush & Travel Pouch, Black for $25.99 (list price $89.99)

Whitmor Supreme Wide Stacking Shelf, Chrome for $15.35 (list price $32.02)

Mellanni Bed Sheet Set - Brushed Microfiber 1800 Bedding - Wrinkle, Fade, Stain Resistant - Hypoallergenic - 4 Piece (Queen, White) for $19.70 (list price $59.99)

LIHAO 12 Piece Set Rustproof Stainless Steel Shower Curtain Rings Hooks for Bathroom Shower Rod for $5.97 (list price $16.99)

Yankee Candle Large Jar Candle, Guave Coconut Fusion for $17.56 (list price $22.86)

ThermoPro TP55 Digital Hygrometer Indoor Thermometer Humidity Gauge with Jumbo Touchscreen and Backlight Temperature Humidity Monitor for $13.99 (list price $29.99)

TasteLife 105 GSM Deep Pocket Bed Sheet Set Brushed Hypoallergenic Microfiber 1800 Bedding Sheets Wrinkle, Fade, Stain Resistant - 4 Piece(White,Queen) for $14.90 (list price $119.90)

Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip Corded Bagless Handheld Vacuum SD20005RED for $24.99 (list price $29.99)

Body Pillowcase, 100% Cotton, 300 Thread Count, 21x60 Pillow Cover by American Pillowcase, Fits 20 x 54, White for $14.99 (list price $23.96)

StorageManiac 3-tier Folding Water-Resistant Compact Steel Clothes Drying Rack - 22.44x14.57x41.34 - Inches for $29.99 (list price $69.99)

ComfiLife Coccyx Orthopedic Memory Foam Office Chair and Car Seat Cushion for Back Pain and Sciatica Relief (Gray) for $29.95 (list price $59.95)

Nontoxic EVA Shower Curtain Clear, Wimaha Mildew Resistant Anti-Bacterial Shower Curtain Liner Waterproof Water Repellent Shower Liner, 72 x 72, Clear for $15.99 (list price $30.00)

Smart Home Bedding Super Plush Pillow Dust Mite Resistant Down Alternative (Queen/Standard, 2 Pack) for $24.99 (list price $99.99)

LINENSPA Zippered Encasement Waterproof, Dust Mite Proof, Bed Bug Proof Breathable Mattress Protector - Queen Size for $24.99 (list price $104.99)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Gillette Fusion Manual Men’s Razor Blade Refills, 12 Count, Mens Razors / Blades for $34.25 (list price $47.99)

Art Naturals Organic Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner Set (2 x 16 Oz) - Sulfate Free - Volumizing & Moisturizing, Gentle on Curly & Color Treated Hair,For Men & Women Infused with Keratin for $26.13 (list price $26.13)

Dead Sea Mud Mask for Face & Body - 100% Natural Spa Quality - Best Pore Reducer & Minimizer to Help Treat Acne , Blackheads & Oily Skin – Tightens Skin for a Visibly Healthier Complexion – 8.8 OZ for $12.95 (list price $36.95)

DUDE Face Wipes, Energizing & Refreshing Scent, Infused with Pro Vitamin B-5 (3 Packs, 30 Wipes per Pack) for $14.37 (list price $17.97)

Philips Sonicare 2 Series Plaque Control Sonic Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush, HX6211/30 for $39.95 (list price $69.99)

Bed Head Curls in Check 1875 Watt Diffuser Hair Dryer for $29.99 (list price $34.99)

Qivange Makeup Brushes, Synthetic Foundation Eyeshadow Fan Brushes Set+Sponge Puff(12pcs,Silver) for $8.99 (list price $42.99)

Majestic Pure Argan Oil Shampoo, Offers Vitamin Enriched Gentle Hair Restoration Formula for Daily Use, Sulfate Free, Moroccan Oil & Potent Natural Ingredients, for Men and Women 16 fl. oz for $13.95 (list price $19.95)

ArtNaturals Signature Blend Essential Oils Set - (8 x 10ml) - 100% Pure of The Highest Quality - Therapeutic Grade - Recommended Aromatherapy Gift Set for $18.95 (list price $36.95)

Gillette Venus Comfortglide Women's Razor Blade Refills, White Tea, 6 Count, Womens Razors / Blades for $20.47 (list price $22.49)

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion 12 oz with Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramides for Normal to Dry Skin for $10.49 (list price $13.99)

Zyllion ZMA13BK Shiatsu Pillow Massager with Heat for Car, Home, or Office (Black) for $39.95 (list price $79.95)

Equinox International Dental Hygiene Kit - Includes Tarter Scraper/Scaling Instrument, Dental Pick, Dental Sickle, and Mouth Mirror - Professional Surgical Grade Dentist Approved Tools for $8.97 (list price $29.99)

OFFICE, SCHOOL, AND CRAFTS

rOtring Tikky Graphic Fineliner Pens, 0.7mm & 0.5mm & 0.3mm, Black Ink, 3 Count for $11.13 (list price $12.56)

X-ACTO XLR Electric Pencil Sharpener, Gold for $13.94 (list price $16.23)

Oxford Twin Pocket Folders, Letter Size, Gray, 25 per Box (57505) for $11.89 (list price $15.59)

Ohuhu 40 Colors Dual Tips Permanent Marker Pens Art Markers Highlighters with Carrying Case for Drawing Sketching Adult Coloring Highlighting and Underlining for $19.99 (list price $40.00)

Bukey Cable Clips - Self-Adhesive Desk Cable Organizer, Durable Cord Management, Wire Holder, Wire Management System, Pack of 10, Black for $6.99 (list price $14.95)

Avery Economy View Binder with 1-Inch Round Ring, White, Pack Of 4 (19200) for $12.53 (list price $15.99)

OUTDOORS, GARDEN, AND SPORTS

Kootek 5 Pack Tactical Mini LED Flashlight Ultra Bright 300 Lumens Handheld Flashlights Adjustable Focus Small for Kids Child Camping Cycling Hiking Emergency Torch Light for $15.99 (list price $19.99)

J5 Tactical Pen - 4 in 1 - Black Ball Point, Emergency Glass Breaker, DNA Collector, Personal Defence Device for $14.95 (list price $29.95)

YJWB Swimming Goggles, Anti-Fog, No Leaking UV Protection, Triathlon Swimming Goggles Men/Women Children Swim Goggles, Grey for $10.65 (list price $18.99)

Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands with Instruction Guide, Carry Bag, EBook and Online Workout Videos, Set of 5 for $10.95 (list price $49.97)

WORX TURBINE 12 Amp Corded Leaf Blower with 110 MPH and 600 CFM Output and Variable Speed Control – WG520 for $54.24 (list price $59.99)

Giantex 2 Pcs Patio Outdoor LoveSeat Coffee Table Set Furniture Bench With Cushion for $133.99 (list price $169.99)

Quik Chair Heavy Duty Folding Camp Chair - Grey for $12.91 (list price $29.99)

BlizeTec Survival Knife: Best 5-in-1 Tactical Pocket Folding Knife with LED Light, Seatbelt Cutter, Glass Breaker & Magnesium Fire Starter for $38.98 (list price $89.99)

Intex Pillow Rest Raised Airbed with Built-in Pillow and Electric Pump, Twin, Bed Height 16.5" for $20.54 (list price $39.99)

LED Camping Lantern, Tent Light With USB cable - Survival Kit for Emergency, Hurricane, Outage for $14.99 (list price $25.99)

TOOLS

Etekcity Lasergrip 1080 Non-contact Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer Temperature Gun -58℉~1022℉ (-50℃~550℃), Yellow and Black for $18.88 (list price $20.99)

URPOWER Motion Sensor Light, 10 LED Bulbs Battery Operated Wireless Motion Nightlight Portable Magnetic Security Closet Light Stick Up Motion Sensor Night Lights for Closets Hallway Stairway(3) for $22.99 (list price $32.99)

TEKTON 5941 Digital Tire Gauge, 100 PSI for $10.79 (list price $11.99)

VERY STRONG Magnetic Wristband & Extended Pick-Up Tool - 10 STRONG Magnets Wrapped Around Wrist - Holds Screws, Bolts, Drill Bits and More - Perfect Gift or Present for Handyman, Fathers or Women. for $9.91 (list price $12.39)

2 PCS IPOW Car Safety Antiskid Hammer Seatbelt Cutter Emergency Class/Window Punch Breaker Auto Rescue Disaster Escape Life-Saving Hammer Tool,Big for $8.39 (list price $13.89)

LE Headlamp LED, 4 Modes Headlight, Battery Powered Helmet Light for Camping, Running, Hiking and Reading, 3 AAA Batteries Included for $7.99 (list price $18.95)

Damaged Screw Extractor and Remover Set by Aisxle,Easily Remove Stripped or Damaged Screws. Made From H.S.S. 4341#, the Hardness Is 62-63hrc,Set of 4 Stripped Screw Removers for $11.88 (list price $39.99)

BLENDX 7mm to 19mm Ratchet Universal Sockets Metric Wrench Power Drill Adapter Set - Professional Repair Tools for $9.49 (list price $15.99)

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios