Watch This NASA Engineer Invent A Robot To Scientifically Prove The Best Way To Skip A Rock Across Water (Because... Priorities)

Tuesday, 28 August 2018 - 1:38PM
Tuesday, 28 August 2018 - 1:38PM
Watch This NASA Engineer Invent A Robot To Scientifically Prove The Best Way To Skip A Rock Across Water (Because... Priorities)
< >
YouTube/Mark Rober
Society has long feared that robots will one day replace humans in every facet of the global workforce, which is probably the final step before they take over the entire world. When we're all left jobless, we'll have to find ways to pass the time... But if you were considering leisurely skipping stones at your local lake, forget it - the robots have that innocuous hobby on lock now, too.

While visiting family in Washington, former NASA engineer Mark Rober (the evil genius who built the massively destructive Super Soaker) decided to challenge his nieces and nephews to a rock skipping contest. What they didn't know is that Rober had a trick up his sleeve and that they were going to help him perfect it.

The robot he built had an arm and "hand," both of which could be adjusted to varying angles. For ammunition, Rober and his family made clay discs of varying heights and diameters. The fun part was pairing different discs with different angle settings on the robot itself. After a lot of trial and error, they found the formula for a perfect rock skip:

1. 20-degree rock angle relative to the water, plus
2. 20-degree rock path angle (and we thought we'd never use our high school algebra),
3. A strong flick of the wrist for rotation and, lastly...
4. A heavy rock with a smooth bottom.

All of the ingredients are important, but the rotation is key: the spin keeps the rock at a perfect angle to the water so it will keep going with each skip.

Using what they learned from the robots, the kids were able to adjust their own throwing technique to get similarly impressive results. (Don't accept wagers from middle-schoolers any time soon.) Summer isn't over yet: this video has been bookmarked, and the Outer Places crew will be putting Rober's lessons to good use very soon. Bets will be made. Dignity will be lost. We're just sorry we didn't use this for "team building" sooner.


Science
Weird Science