The NUMB3RS Behind
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.