Archive - Skipping Stones

May 29, 2016


Each Sunday we present a notable item from our archives. This EPOD was originally published May 23, 2004.

Provided by and copyright: Peg Staudenmaier
Summary Author: Peg Staudenmaier

The above photo was taken a year ago (May 23, 2003) just before sunset at Communiversity Park, Green Bay, Wisconsin. These two boys (lower left) skipping stones on this spring evening didn't come close to endangering the world record of 38 bounces. A team of French scientists from The Research Institute for Out of Equilibrium Phenomena developed a machine that helped them publish the angle and speed of the best throw. Their findings have been applied to atmospheric re-entry models of spacecraft like the Space Shuttle. Whether you consider skipping stones a science or a fine art, both experts and amateurs agree that a flat-surfaced stone thrown in a smooth motion will yield the best results.

Also, note the glitter patch caused by light reflection off of the small wavelets. Glitter is a frequently observed optical phenomenon, but many people fail to realize that it's simply a legion of tiny reflections of the Sun.

[Note: Since this EPOD was originally published a new world record for skipping stones of 88 has been set on September 6, 2013. - ed.]