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SKEPTOID BLOG:

The Case of the Spinning Statue

by Mike Weaver

June 25, 2013

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Today we take a look at a mysteriously spinning Egyptian statue of a man (Neb-Sanu) in a Manchester museum and try to decide if supernatural forces are at work. Spoilers: Nope.

I saw this article, by Roxanne Palmer, published in today's International Business Times. The article discusses the mysterious Egyptian statue which was seen to rotate over the course of several days within a glass display case. Here is a time-lapse video of the statue rotating without any apparent cause.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbXEHu27qUI&w=560&h=315]

The video is very interesting and it doesn't appear to have any of the usual red flags one might expect from a hoax video. One thing is apparent in the video, which the article points out:
When you look at the rotating statue, you may notice that the statue moves only as people are walking by. Vibration, which can be caused merely by the foot traffic of passersby, is a well-known problem in museums, especially on wooden floors -- the kind that are in the room that houses the Egyptian statue. Objects on glass shelves, like the Neb-Sanu statue, have been known to "walk" short distances.
Watching it through a second time, it is certainly the case that the statue rotates more quickly when there is a lot of foot traffic and rotates very little during the night. Further, and most interestingly to me, it seems to stop moving much once it has turned all the way around. This suggests that the statue is more stable in this position (the heavy part is down hill) than in the starting position.

The combination of a hard stone statue, a flexible floor, and a glass shelf add up to small motions which, when viewed over time, result in a dramatic movement. The article goes on to note that:

In the British Museum, ambient vibrations loosened tiles from Aztec artifacts and worked the tails of two African ivory leopard sculptures from the holes in a wall that kept them affixed. Thickett also found instances of object-walking on glass shelves, with vibration levels as low as .02 g-force. A 1-pound bronze statue walked along a Lucite base while a neighboring sculpture weighing .7 pounds stayed put on a glass shelf.
The article provides a video from Mick (Epoxynous) attempting to replicate the rotation effect with a glass table and a representative mass. The video is below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRnoDb8tmkM&w=560&h=315]

Imagine the stories that might have bloomed out of this, ultimately mundane, effect (vibrations moving the statue) in a more credulous age without the benefit of time lapse videos? We might be discussing the ancient case of the cursed statue!

Be well.

by Mike Weaver

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