July 19, 2009

Skipping stones

Childhood...whenever we went on a picnic and found a small pond or a lake, we looked for small flat stones and for the next one hour, all we did was throw the stones close to the surface of the water so they went zip...zip...zip...zip! It was addicting, and a lot of fun.

Did this at Shamirpet yesterday, after many years. For my children, it was an introduction to this fun outdoor pastime. A friend we met there told me this was now a 'sport' and had a name---'skipping stones', and that there were championships too, and that the world record was 40 skips, and that the French had manufactured a machine to determine the size-weight-velocity ratio of the stone that resulted in ideal skip...or something like that!

So I came home and googled 'skipping stones', and among other things, found this interesting info:
  • Virtually every culture has a term for stone skipping. The English call it 'ducks and drakes', Danes call it 'smutting'; in France, it is 'ricochet', in Ireland, 'stone skiffing'.
  • Eskimos skip rocks on ice; Bedouins on smooth sand.
  • Currently, the Guinness Book of World Records accords the title to Jerdone Coleman McGhee, a Texas engineer who in 1992 scored an incredible 38 skips on the Blanco River.
  • The grandaddy of all such skip-offs is held every Fourth of July on Michigan's Mackinac Island.
  • It was here in 1977 that John Kolar earned the all-time Mackinac record of "24 plus-infinity"---his stone vanished ominously into fog after two dozen skips!
  • There's also a book on skipping stones, called The secrets of stone skipping, by Jerdone Coleman-McGhee.
  • And what's more...someone seems to have come up with this quote: Skip stones, not school!
  • Shakespeare wrote about skipping stones in the original version of Henry V.
Whatever...I am happy I introduced this 'sport' to the kids yesterday!

Image from http://www.yeeha.net/nassa/blife.txt.html


Vasudeva Siruguri said...

Obviously, there is a lot of physics in it.

Sadhana Ramchander said...

Scientists...they have a one-track mind!!

dharmabum said...

very interesting! how have you been?

Sadhana Ramchander said...

Good, Dharmabum...and you? I am happy to see you here again!

Ramesh said...

Thanks for again touching a chord. I skip stones in my backyard on the same lake--where July 4th event takes place in Mackinaw Island(only 220 miles north). I did this a week ago in Family competition. The record was 7 skips. The flatter & lighter the stone & paralell(to water's surface) the trajectory seems to yield the best results.Thanks for your refreshing perspective of things that we do on a day to day basis.


Sadhana Ramchander said...

Wow! Great...that you skip stones in Mackinaw Island! Life is really about small happinesses, and that's what I write about!

Mayank Bhatnagar said...

I used to do this in my childhood. However, my interest in wildlife made me aware of tiny insects and fishes that stay close to the surface of water. So I no longer throw 'anything' in water. In fact, if you go to a clean and natural waterbody next time (like a lake or a pond in a national park), just sit near it and stare at the water: see it move in waves and see ripples form on it. Chances are that after 10 minutes or so, you will feel as if you have meditated! That is the power of water!

Sadhana Ramchander said...

It is enlightening to hear your deep thoughts, Mayank. Thank you. Yes, I will do that soon.