Behind Rock Skipping
Skiffing, smutting, ricochet, "ducks
and drakes." Those are all names for the art of rock skipping. It is
now as much of a science as an art, thanks to physicist Lyderic Bocquet
and his young son. Mr. Bocquet formulated equations of motion for stones,
modeling them as a thin, flat object bouncing off a uniform surface.
He discovered that the stones initial rate of speed and spin rate were
the biggest factors in the stone's ability to skip multiple times. A
high rate of spin generates a gyroscopic effect that prevents the stone
from tumbling and diving into the water. Per his equations, the world
record of 38 skips corresponds to a stone flying 12 meters while spinning
at a rate of 14 revolutions/second.