Security cameras in England's Manchester Museum have caught this 4,000-year-old Egyptian statue of Neb Sanu — ostensibly an offering to the god Osiris, lord of the dead — mysteriously spinning in its display case, completely untouched.
Is it a ghostly pharaoh's curse, the likes of which are rumored to have sentenced the excavators of King Tutankhamun's tomb to an early death? Or is it something even more sinister, as initially proposed by the museum's resident Egyptologist, Campbell Price, when he discovered the stone figure was somehow moving on its own?
"I noticed one day that it had turned around," Price told the Manchester Evening News. "I thought it was strange because it is in a case, and I am the only one who has a key."
"In Ancient Egypt they believed that if the mummy is destroyed then the statuette can act as an alternative vessel for the spirit. Maybe that is what is causing the movement." [Manchester Evening News via The Telegraph]
To find out, officials set up a security camera to record time-lapse footage of the statue, which has been in the museum's possession for 80 years. After a week, they think they've found their answer: The movement may be due to a less-chilling phenomenon called "differential friction."
If you look closely, the statue is only moving during the day. Speaking with the Daily Mail, physicist Brian Cox says he thinks that the subtle vibrations caused by museum goers, coupled with the stone bottom of the statue and the glass surface of the casing, are what has been triggering its slow-motion pivot.
Price, however, still has his doubts. "It has been on those surfaces since we have had it and it has never moved before. And why would it go around in a perfect circle?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- 10 things you need to know today: September 22, 2014
- Save the world... by changing how you pee
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why does Fareed Zakaria still have a job?
- Does solar energy have a battery problem?
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- Can the U.S. Army degrade and destroy Ebola?
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
Subscribe to the Week