CLOSE

5 Odd Balls

Sure, you know your footballs, baseballs, tennis balls and basketballs. But what about the lesser-known balls? Let's take a closer look at some, er, odd balls now.

1. Jai Alai Balls

AKA: Pelota (Spanish for ball, duh)
Weight: 125g–140g
Let's get the ball rolling: Considered the most lethal ball of any sport, the pelota is 3/4 the size of a baseball, harder than a golf ball, and has been clocked at speeds in excess of 180 m.p.h. The Guinness Book of World Records calls it "the world's fastest ball." The pelota is constructed of hand wound Brazilian rubber with two hand-sown goatskin covers. Pelotas cost more than $150 each and must be re-covered after 15 minutes of play. No machine has ever been developed to construct an official pelota.

2. Qigong Balls


AKA: Worry balls, lotus balls, chiming balls, miracle balls, therapy balls
Made of: metal or stone
Size: 1 3/4 inches (small), 1 15/16 inches (medium) 2 3/16 inches (large)
Rock'n'Roll: Some balls have a sounding plate inside that makes them "sing" or chime when rolled or clinked
Ancient Chinese Secret: Around since the Ming Dynasty, these healing balls have many uses. Some believe that our ten fingers connect with the cranial nerves and vital organs. Plucking the balls with your fingers stimulates key points on the hand and releases vital energy. Some believe the orbs can prevent and cure hypertension. Others use them simply for exercise.

3. Skee-Balls


Made from: either smooth polished hardwood or heavy plastic
History: The game, skee-ball, was invented in 1909 by J. Dickinson Este in Philadelphia. The first alleys were sold to outdoor amusement parks and were 36 feet long! It was as much as test of strength as of skill. Today's arcade standard is ten feet, with most home games at eight feet.

4. Pinballs

Why are they called "pin" balls?The early version of what we now call pinball was actually called bagatelle. Players rolled balls up an inclined table and tried to knock down little pins for points.
Made of: Early pinballs were made of glass, like big marbles. When the game became "electrified" the standard steel pinball, measuring 1 1/16" in diameter, was born.

Tilt! The tilt mechanism was invented in 1934 as a direct answer to the problem of players physically lifting and shaking the games. The tilt debuted in a game called Advance made by Harry Williams.

5. Bocee Balls

Made of: While cheap bocce balls can be made out of wood, stone or metal, the most popular (and tournament approved) are made of hard plastic, similar to bowling balls or billiard balls
The other ball: is much smaller and called the pallino, or "the jack"; it's used for scoring
Meaning: From the Italian word boccia, which means "to bowl"

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
olympics
6 New Events Will Debut At This Year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang
iStock
iStock

It’s that time again! The 2018 Winter Olympic Games will kick off in PyeongChang, South Korea on February 9, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is adding a handful of new events to the festivities. In 2014, 12 new events—including Men’s and Women’s Ski Half-Pipe and Biathlon Mixed Relay—were added to make the Sochi Games more challenging and exciting. This year, six new events will make their debut in PyeongChang.

Here’s what’s new for 2018: While it started out as an X-Games event, extreme athletes will now get their chance to win gold medals in Men’s and Women’s Snowboard Big Air, which sees competitors performing their best spins and tricks after launching off a large (about 160 feet) ramp. For the first time, the Alpine skiing Nations Team Event will make its debut; the event features mixed teams of two men and two women going head-to-head in a series of downhill slalom races in a best-of-four competition.

Next up, Men’s and Women’s Speed Skating Mass Start features a maximum of 28 athletes in a 16-lap race, where all participants start at the same time with winner-takes-all stakes. Speed Skating Mass Start first appeared during the Lake Placid games in 1932, but has sat out the Winter Olympics in the 85 years since, so it's prepared to make a triumphant return.

Lastly, there's Curling Mixed Doubles. The new event consists of teams of two, a man and a woman, competing in a curling match with eight ends and five stones, instead of the traditional 10 and eight, respectively. In addition, there’s a 22-minute limit to get a team’s stones closest to the center button of the house.

The Opening Ceremony of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games will air on NBC beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Friday, February 9, 2018.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
video
Watch These Surfers Crush Nantucket's 'Slurpee' Waves
iStock
iStock

Instead of hunkering down with Netflix and hot chocolate during the East Coast’s recent cold snap, surfers Nick Hayden and Jamie Briard spent the first few days of January 2018 conquering icy waves in Nantucket, Massachusetts. The frothy swells resembled a frozen 7-Eleven Slurpee, so photographer Jonathan Nimerfroh, a friend of the athletes, grabbed his camera to capture the phenomenon, according to deMilked.

The freezing point for salt water is 28.4°F, but undulating ocean waves typically move too much for ice particles to form. At Nantucket’s Nobadeer Beach, however, conditions were just right for a thick layer of frost to form atop the water’s surface for several hours. Some of the slushy crests were even surfable before melting after about three hours, Nimerfroh told Live Science.

This is the second time Nimerfroh has photographed so-called “Slurpee waves." He captured a similar scene on February 27, 2015, telling The New York Times, “I saw these crazy half-frozen waves. Usually on a summer day you can hear the waves crashing, but it was absolutely silent. It was like I had earplugs in my ears.”

Check out Nimerfroh’s video of surfers enjoying the icy swell below.

[h/t deMilked]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios