• picture
  • picture
PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Almanac/The Ultimate Disc

Air Date: Week of July 26, 2002

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

This week, we have facts about Frisbees. It was 45 years ago that Wham-O went on the market, but the Frisbee's roots run back to the 1870s.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Welcome back to Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.

[MUSIC UP AND UNDER: GERHARD NARHOLZ, "SPEAKING GUITAR," MUSIC FOR TV DINNERS, SCAMP, 1997]

CURWOOD: It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a Wham-O Frisbee. Forty-five years ago, the official Wham-O Frisbee made its soaring debut onto beaches, parks and campuses across the nation.

The simple instructions of "play catch, invent games" were well-heeded and resulted in some pretty wacky Frisbee sports. Consider Ultimate Frisbee. This hybrid of soccer and football has one team passing the Frisbee down a field to score goals in the end zone, with defenders trying to stop them.

Then there’s Disk Golf, without clubs or holes. But the object is the same: hit your mark in as few tosses as possible. And it’s not just humans that fall to Frisbee fever. Canines also love to play catch with the flyer platters.

It all got its start back in the 1870s when William Russell Frisbie, owner of the Frisbie Pie Company in New Haven, Connecticut, sold pies to hungry students at Yale University. After devouring the pies, the young men would toss around the empty tin saucers yelling, "Frisbie!" to get the receiver’s attention.

The game of Frisbie-ing quickly spread across college campuses and onto California beaches. Flinging a Frisbee may seem pretty easy. But understanding the physics involved takes a big of know-how. There’s aerodynamic lift, along with the Bernoulli Principle, and gyroscopic inertia.

Swedish Frisbee fanatic Christian Sandstrom mastered them all this year in a competition in California when he set the record for an outdoor toss–820 feet. And, for this week, that’s the Living on Earth Almanac.

[MUSIC UNDER]

 

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Major funding for Living on Earth is provided by the National Science Foundation.

Committed to healthy food, healthy people, a healthy planet, and healthy business.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live.

Kendeda Fund, furthering the values that contribute to a healthy planet.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.