Thermodynamics and stones



In New England each spring most gardeners are faced with clearing their plots of a multitude of varying sized stones. These same plots were cleared of stones during the spring planting of the previous year. Now the reappearance of surface stones is not without merit, for the phenomenon gives rise to some much needed exercise and the stones make walls of lasting practical and aesthetic value. It has also been suggested that the layer of stones that appear each spring upon the surface of tilled fields protects the soil from erosion by heavy spring rains. It is recommended that these surface stones be crushed and returned to the field. This process allows the use of farm machinery, and it still maintains a protective stone shield [Epstein et al., 1966] Even the most indolent observer should eventually begin to inquire as to the fundamental mechanism behind the phenomemon.