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.