Are you bad with ricochet? Skip the usual thin flat rocks and try larger, curved ones that bounce higher, a study published on Wednesday suggests.
For centuries, ricochet enthusiasts have known that the choice of stones is critical to the success of the feat: the flatter and thinner the objects, the more likely they are to bounce. However, “we can get exciting new dynamics with rocks that we used to reject,” assures mathematician Ryan Palmer from the British University of Bristol.
Thus, the larger and more curved pebbles result in something “completely different, but just as impressive, with huge jumps on the surface of the water,” he describes to AFP.
His study, published in the British Royal Society’s scientific journal Proceedings A, uses a physics-based mathematical model with centuries-old equations.
Initially, scientists focused on the more serious subject of aircraft icing, analyzing how ice crystals separated from the liquid layer that formed on their wings.
Their observations revealed “the same interaction as when you stand on the edge of a lake and try to push a stone away from its surface,” the mathematician explains.
The heavier stone was found to give a “superelastic response”, producing an “almighty jump”: when the projectile hits the water, the horizontal velocity changes to vertical. So the heavier it is, the stronger the interaction, he describes.
Curvature is another key factor as it allows heavier rocks to glide through the water.
For those who want to try, the technique remains the same: the throw must be parallel to the surface. Ryan Palmer has admitted that he himself is not a ricochet ace, even if he enjoys indulging in this hobby when the opportunity arises.
He jokingly promises to try his luck, “especially if the stone looks like a potato”, even if this shape is too round for maximum bounce.