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The Trickle - What else floats on water?

August 17, 2012 - Brian Ferry
When I get close to a body of water with rocks near the edge, I have trouble resisting the urge to search through the rocks to find some flat ones. If I find some flat ones, there's usually little chance I won't do my best to bounce them on the water. It doesn't make sense. Stones should not bounce on water. Stones (at least the ones I throw at water) tend to sink rapidly. (Interestingly, I hear that somewhere in the world, there is an enormous flotilla of rocks (pumice) right now.) Still, the skipping thing works. Holding a flat, generally circular rock (not more than about three inches in diameter) between my thumb and forefinger, I hurl it sidearm toward the water, imparting a good amount of spin. The rock, if I've done things right, strikes the water and bounces. I don't know the physics. The rock sometimes bounces several more times before sinking or striking land. I'm hoping to be able to get a respectable number of skips the next time I go skipping. At my son's urging, we will be participating in the annual Rock In River stone skipping contest in Franklin. At least for an eight-year-old, he's pretty accomplished at skipping stones. There is an under-12 division. I don't know how he'll do, but I'm confident he'll have fun. I don't have any delusions about my ability to join the "professional" portion of the competition. However, there is an amateur contest. I'll give that a shot. Unless the water at the confluence of French Creek and the Allegheny River is of particularly high density, I expect I'll get a top result in the 15 to 20 range with my six stones. The winning professional skippers tend to reach the mid-30s. I may have come close to that a few times in my life. If I get enough skips, I could win some locally made fudge. What a contest.


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