How Ping Pong Works


Hi, I'm Ariel Casten Jonathan Strickland and together, we're going to tell you the stories behind some of the biggest triumphs in failures and business. That's right. We're going to explore situations that tested the medal of entrepreneurs pivotal moments required. Making tough decisions. We'll be talking about some big companies that everybody knows like Disney LEGO and Harley Davidson and together we try to answer the question. What do you do when you find yourself at the brink? Listen and subscribe at apple podcasts or on the iheartradio app or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Welcome to stop. You should know from how stuff works dot com. Hey and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark. And there's Charles W Chuck Bryant there's Jerry over there. And this is stuff, you should know the podcast about ping pong. I'm excited about this one. I'm glad I love ping pong. Are you any good? I don't think we've ever played have. We think we have crazy. There was at one time we at that ping pong bar in we stared at each other for an hour. But we never played. I remember that as being air hockey. I remember the staring. Yeah. Dude. I love ping pong. I'm pretty good for you know, just a recreational ponder. An NFL gotta table get an outdoor table. Oh nice. An outdoor table fancy. I love it. Yeah. That's great. I don't have room inside. Well, yeah. If you have an outdoor table doesn't matter got one under the deck. Very nice. And it's just the best. I love I I have had many times in my life where and now it's just kind of when I can get someone over family now have a window, but at various points in my life. I have played a lot of ping-pong, including when I lived in LA, my buddy, John Bendel, chef John, you know, John he was I think living in a place that had an outdoor table and this was outdoor in Los Angeles. So it's kinda grades just out there in the backyard. And then my brother, and I have had epic legendary ping pong battles. It has house fun basement like like matches like a single game that went on forever. Kind of thing. Just I mean, not that. But like two out of three. Like every time families over there at one point we will disappear and everyone's like where it's gotten Chuck. Oh, and we're down they're going at it. That's awesome. It's just so much fun. I love ping pong. I I love ping pong too. But my eyes are kind of open. I realize I'm not quite as much the ping pong aficionados. I once thought I was so. Yeah. Yeah. Between you and this article, I realize I'm in total schlub when it comes to ping pong. Yeah. I'm not bad kid. So we're talking pingpong today in Chuck a you can just phone this one in I had to do a lot of extensive shoe leather research on this one. But the the idea of ping-pong when you think of it, especially in the the twenty first century most people think of China when they think of ping-pong you're officially here in the US, but really worldwide because China is nuts for ping pong. And there are plenty of other countries to that love pong. Don't get me wrong, Sweden is known as one of the major wholly insane pong Japanese love ping pong. It's basically almost every country except America really has a thing for ping pong here. It's just, you know, fun recreational stuff in other countries. It has taken very very seriously. And there are pockets that take it seriously here too. There's the US table Tennis Association has been around since the thirties. But I think what I mean it as far as the public goes thinking about tape. Tennis players. We don't exactly like put them hoist them on our shoulders and carry them around the room after a match like that like, my what might happen to him in other countries. That's a very good point. But, but it's sort of more of a recreational like, you said there are some competitive players to be sure and organizations, but it's a it's a sport you can play where you're drinking a beer, you know. Sure. Now, you don't want to do that. If you are actually competitive pro table tennis player, but I say all that choke because. While we think of China's like the home of table tennis. It actually is a British invention. Did you know that? I did. Well, of course, you did your table tennis pro. No. I mean new that just because it was a variation of tennis, which the Brits also gave us. It is a wreck at sport, which you can include things like badminton and smooshed ball and smash ball. What are the things they play down at Venice beach. What is it called pickle ball? Is that what it is basically a miniature tennis court? He's got some mash ball. Okay. I don't know. People are yelling at in their car right now me, I think you're talking about pickle ball is applicable. It's just sort of like a shrunken downton escort. Yeah. But obviously they're playing it looks like tennis with oversize ping pong paddles. Right exa-. Okay. Yeah. This pickle ball. All right. It might be a called smash ball to you know, there's regional differences. Now, grinder hero that. Kind of thing. I think I think mash vol is something else entirely thinking of smash mouth. That again. Yes. Reference to our live shows. We just did. Okay. But what I was saying was it is a known as a record sport or Iraq at game wherein. You have a record. You hit something over a net to another human or maybe robot, even as we'll get to. But and there's a there's a court there are boundaries of some kind that you need to hit it in. It's not just a crazy fee for. All right. Exactly. You can't just like win a point by crushing it over your opponent's head that would be fun. It takes skill and finesse and it even takes more skill and finesse than like tennis does like lawn tennis because Warrenton well, so so there's a difference. There's Royal tennis which is played like I'm trying to remember what movie it appeared in. Maybe he was even downton abbey. I'm not sure, but whether you play indoors, it's like Tennyson doors, and there's like the ball is hard and rafting cloth and doesn't squash. No, no, there's Royal tennis. And then. There's lawn tennis or modern tennis is what it's called and ping pong is very Asian on modern tennis. But it takes more finesse because yes, you can smash the ball, and that is a way to go aggressive attacks style playing. But there's also a really good way to play too, which is is strictly defensive, and it's all finesse and spin, and we'll we'll see like there's a lot of thought that goes into it. Which is why if you notice if you start to look around who plays table, tennis, you'll find that there are table tennis tables in places where they're very smart people like MIT hesitate tennis club and Sern has a table tennis club in one of their one of their cafeterias like smart people like this because there's a lot of physics involved into it. And there's not a lot of running around either. Yeah. You don't see him. You. Don't see dumb dumbs because they're just like, I don't get it. Like smash ball, paddle. But we do know that the although we don't know like the the inventor there's not one person that is credited with its invention. But the story goes that British soldiers in South Africa or India were bored. And you know, the weather wasn't so great, and they were probably drinking. And so they came up with this little smaller version of tennis played on a table. As the story goes using Sobar cigar box lids using borrow leads and a whittled down champagne cork to make it round, which you know, that that wouldn't be a bad little I I go I saw that. Exact same story was attributed to some wealthy British aristocrats who were bored one day. It sounds about. Right. But the there seems to be unanimous agreement that it was on a table with cigar box lids in a cork widow down. Yeah. And so, you know, it it grow from there it grow at growed. Excuse me. He's still got another try left. Did growed from there into wait. You mean grew right. You know, getting right? Okay. Okay. That's the first time. I knew you're kidding. The second time. I was like. We could straight men you really. Are it grew from there in the names changed various times, the first manufactured actually, put out and self ping pong tables was the jockey games company, and they call the gossamer. There was another trademark name with wife, which was the slaves into your company's name in the world was like you got another try that was one called flimflam. I don't know if that was trademarked from company, or if that was just a nickname, and all these with with the exception of Gaza, they they were meant to to emulate the sound the ball made going back and forth. Right. Really? Yes. Yeah. With with didn't sound like with web at all. What about flip flam? Nope. Okay. Maybe the sound of the paddle. It sounds like a win and waf-. Right. But not the ball. Okay. Fine. But gossamer meant it was like after gossamer which was kind of fine and thin and elegant which was like the ball play was what that was describing. They were all terrible terrible names. I can't believe it was just so they did use cork at first, but they didn't bounce. Great rubber wasn't good. Because too much bounce the rackets were really kinda crazy looking at for some had really long handles kind of look like a badminton racquet with a Vela stretched over wooden frame. But they were not they broke on the table and stuff. So they were really kind of refining it in those early years as far as the equipment goes, right? I think it was the was shocked. No, yeah. It was shock the J J Jockan son who were the ones that were selling those like what you just described as kinda cheap. Not well-made not really well thought out equipment for ping pong. Yeah. Boy, it wasn't called ping pong at the time until the late eighteen ninety s when that same company J, Jacques and son who were sporting goods outfit started calling it ping pong in their catalog. It's just converted from Gaza over to ping pong through these guys. Yeah. And it was before that in eighteen eighty five though is an attempt to patent it as table tennis by guiding James Devonshire, but two years later, he abandoned that pursuit. I don't know if it was just taking too long or if he saw the writing on the wall, but he he left that behind and then it would be like you said nineteen ninety one was when John jock trademark that ping pong. Name. Yep. And then Parker brothers bought the North American or at least American rights to use ping pong exclusively. And they brought ping pong to the United States with that. And this is the reason why if you, you know, look up any professional association or any competitive like ping pong group. They always refer to his table tennis because ping pong is a trademark table tennis is not plus also over the years pingpong has gotten an association with people like me. Yeah. Just people having fun playing it. Where table tennis has been the route that you know, most competitive it did not competitiveness competition pro kind of thing. Yeah. For sure. But I think if you're just hanging around the locker room or whatever was some table tennis pros, they'll refer to it as ping pong. And no one's like, oh, I can't believe his call that that. And you're like, no this locker room talk. Right. So the same year that ping-pong was trademarked in nineteen ninety one. That was an Englishman named James Gabe. He found his celluloid balls when he went to the US that were just it wasn't for table tennis. It was just a toy and novelty toy he's like, this is pretty great. Actually, it's pretty lively. It's light just the right amount of bounce. And so I think celluloid is kind of like the route we should take and everyone seemed to agree in that sort of became the defacto ping pong ball. Right. It seems that way. Forever. Celluloid is a type of plastic is super flammable, like it's what film stock like camera film was made from forever. But like I said, it's very flammable and your ball's gonna go up in flames. If you pass it over a candle like if you're lighting your game by candle. So this is not very good. But that was an enormous change that pushed ping pong way forward because up to that point a court ball bounce very well rubber ball bounce too much. You couldn't really play ping pong. Like, we see it today. It was more like oh Cervo. Sorry. Here's another serve. Oh, sorry. Here's another service. My point. It was boring when that guy came along with the CEO e balls and introduced him for ping pong play. That was it made it fun finally pong finally became fun. Yeah. The just a year after that to the paddle, and this is all sort of aligning perfectly. The paddle underwent a big change over the years preceding, they had used cork to cover them and leather sometimes Esau that you can still buy leather covered ping pong paddles. Tiffany's. Yeah. I could totally see that Pearl handle leather leather facing. But they couldn't land on the right materials and then at nine hundred ninety two at a tournament demanding EC good found this dimpled rubber coin Matt rapid around his paddle. And he's like the sing is pretty boss. I can get a little spin on it. We got this ball from the year before and everything sort of clicking at this point. Right. That was so you've got the great ball. You got the great covering and now paint Peng's ready to explode. And it started to and then it just stopped. Let's take a break. Okay. All right is a good cliffhanger and find out what killed ping pong right after this. Well now here. Road drivin in your one learn singer to from Josh John did stuff, you should know. Right. Let me tell you. What bound Pete who loved hockey and always wanted to play in the NHL Pete played since he was three and begged his mom to let him stay on the ice. Why some nights he even slept in his hockey skates? Pete practiced and practiced unto one day when he was forty seven beat realized he just wasn't that good. So he threw his skates in the trash. But then he heard how DIKO proud partner of the NHL good save money on car insurance. So he switched and saved a bunch. So it all worked out. All right. So ping pong is finally coming into its own lives finally getting good and right? Is it is it just it just drops off as a fad the craze, especially in the United States. And I think in Europe to it just kind of went away. And there's no real obvious reason why but our old pal Ed dug up an example that he thinks by behind it. There was a an ad for the national guard in nineteen fourteen where one of the major generals in the national guard said that they don't want any pong warriors. Which implies that the sport was seen as effeminate or that you were kind of a wimp or something if you play ping pong? So it's possible that like that kind of the warlike masculinity rose above it and ping pong pushed down as a result. Well, and also World War One in the Spanish flu. Probably put a dent in. In fun games. Like this overall. I would say sure I mean, that's just a guess, but they had more important more important fish to fry right then playing ping pong but accurate back right after the war, right right after the war. And I don't think that it is coincidental. At this was also a time when people started smoking pot a lot in America the jazz age so you had jazz marijuana cigarettes in ping pong. Those are the three of the jazz age quite a mix. And then so Parker brothers still had their their trademark on this whole thing. They're like, oh, great, Holly, Louis. It's the jazz age. They started throwing these competitions with cash prizes and celebrities showed up it was a big deal. Yeah. I imagine during the marijuana craze to they were like this is great for what we're doing. But we gotta keep score. And that's a problem. Right. Somebody's gotta stay sober for this. Like, what was it who serve was it? No, wait. Is it seven six? Do we twenty one? Man your way to tie for this. So believe in the twenties is when they started having these big tournaments Parker brothers with prizes. Celebrities were coming out. The ITTF was officially founded in the mid twenty s that's the international table tennis foundation. Yeah. And they start having world championships in nineteen twenty six. Yeah. Like right off the bat. Yeah. And it was a big deal. Like, obviously they stopped during World War Two for a period of time. But pretty much every couple of years since nineteen twenty six aside from the war. They started holding these I guess would it be biannual or what's your two years? Well, that could be yes by annuals over two years. That's not twice a year. I think it can be as one of those things I think you would use semi semi annual might even be quarterly. I'm not sure I think it can mean either one just like with weekly. Yeah. But those first years. Hungarians were the dominant country. They won eight of the first nine four of those went to the same guy a gun in Victor Barra. One thirty two thirty three thirty four and thirty five men. That's good. Yeah. So he was doing pretty good. But the United States was not now the like, I said, the U S T T A didn't form until nineteen thirty three. And even then if you wanted to go play really like high level table tennis. She went to one place in the entire country Lawrence's Broadway courts in Manhattan town, got to go to New York if you wanna play ping pong, see if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere in the US. But don't even try it in Hungary. Yeah. Just wasn't it. Just didn't catch on like it did in Europe. No it didn't. This is like this is the same. Like, there was never I think it was kind of big in the seventies to again pot and the United States, but it it's never been like like explosively sustainably popular, it has an in other countries and import. So the Europeans are dominating table tennis from about the the mid twenties to almost to the early fifties. Yeah. In from thirty to fifty the Soviet Union bandit for twenty years really that left of Soviet vacuum. Okay. So so the Hungarians while the Hungarians would have been on her Soviet control. Then. I don't know the answer that question. Yeah. I guess they would have been. So that would have I guess I wonder if that's when it moved over to western Europe, north western Europe, like Sweden and Germany, maybe supposedly the best alltime players Sweden. That's what I've heard too. So the Mozart have table tennis. I don't know John John ove Waldner. Oh, you would the oh. The Sean part. I'm like, I don't know if he's Swedish. And then the over really got me John's probably yawn yawn. Ova waldner. Yeah. Nice supposedly the best ever. So is he contemporary? I don't know. Okay. So so you've got this. You've got Europe dominating. America's like, we're not even trying right now. And this is basically from the twenty s to the early fifties. And then in nineteen fifty two Asia's steps in and says, don't forget Asia in the form of a man named Hiroki Sato, and he showed up at the world championship in nineteen fifty two embalm bay or moon by and he said, hey, you know, how there's no rules about what kind of paddle. I can use it. What size it is. Or there's not really a lot of a lot of guidance on the pedal. Check this out. He had put foam around his paddle. And boy did that make the ball bounce back. It increase the speed of the ball. Tremendously. And he just dominated that that tournament and became world champion in nineteen fifty two by the way that guy is totally contemporary Yano. They've older he's in his fifties. He's retired. Now. I don't know why you would retire from table tennis. So one thing I read I read a article about a kid who is one of the best in the world who is actually from America's in Indian American. He he trains like he has a train to move around the table fast enough. We'll supposedly if you're an advanced player you can burn up to five hundred calories and our playing table tennis a set. Right. It's what they say. That's a that's a Snickers bar and a half. Yeah. I mean, I work up a sweat this. That's me as well though. So I take that it can consideration. I can sweat playing. Jess, I can't wait till you reach the age where you just walk around in public with a pan towel around your neck does that what's his. Name from the office. Greg Robinson said his name. Oh, craig. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think he's famous for sort of just dripping sweat del over shoulder. Yeah. Why not you know? Good for him. I'm gonna follow that lead. So there's worse leads. You could follow for sure. Yeah. Yeah. So Hiroji Sato showed up with his phone, paddle, paddle foam, covered paddle and just dominate in became the the the hero or the champion of that tournament end of the world. But there's two legends that happened to him afterward one he returned home and was hailed a hero and a champion by Japan and two he returned home and was scorned as a dishonourable winner because he used an unusual paddle and never played table tennis again. And it turns out that he doesn't show up in any other tournament and that one maybe he was like, well, I cheated I'm going to go do some other stuff or maybe he really was like this is this. Everyone's right. This was dishonorable. I'm never gonna play again. Interesting. I hope there wasn't some various action taken I hope so too. So over the years a lot of changes have taken place. To make it more playable and more. And this is like the official rules in competition to make it more playable and to make it better for people watching it. They lower the net by about an inch over the years on to make it gets a little zippier and more fun. They increase actually not too long ago in two thousand they increase the size of the ball by two millimeters to slow it down a little bit because it was getting so fast. People can follow it. It was like Forrest Gump up in their. Yep. And people aren't this isn't I mean, it has to be. I mean, it's not a big TV sport here, obviously. But it's a big TV sport. And a lot of the world, right? Like people watch this stuff. Yeah. I mean, the camera has to be able to see where the ball's going this hockey, you know, people want to see what's going on. They could do the the glowing ball like they did in hockey for a while. Oh, I forgot about that. Yes. Same company that did the ten yard line the first down line. Oh, right. Wasn't really. Yeah. Yeah. It was did glowing things. I think we talked about. I can't remember what? So we talked about that one before. But okay. So you have the foam paddled padded, paddle. You've got balls that work. Really? Well, and you have what else Chuck you have a lowered net. Yes. You have a bigger ball. You have an and then probably the cream of the crop. It's not what I'm looking for may. And my just to. No, that's the death below. Okay. The well, the pinnacle they made it in Olympic summer sport. Yes. In nineteen eighty eight. Yes. Which I get it. No. It's like okay now, you're not just wasting your life being approach table tennis player. Yeah. Just just in it for the pot. You know, you can actually train go to the Olympics for your country. That's right. Pretty monumental. Should we talk about playing styles a bit? I think we should I like what you're like where you're going or not going with this next. Well, so the point is made in this article that table tennis is is a game all about the style of play sorta like boxing, you can come out swinging hard. You can come out with the rope adoped you can play defense, and boxing, and you can kind of do that. In tennis. You can be really aggressive and try and set up for the big smashes or you could be what's known as the chisel or or pusher. Right and just be really fundamentally sound and wait for your Ponant to make a mistake. Right. And that was chiseling was huge back before the phone paddles because that's all you really had. You couldn't you couldn't attack with a huge super fast return. I mean, you could try, but it wasn't going to really work. Yeah. But once the introduction of foam came around chiseling became like a decision you could also be a an attacker as well. Yeah. I mean, I think now you gotta have all the weapons in your pong arsenal. Right. Exactly. You know, you can play the spin game you can be defensive. But you also got gotta hang fifteen feet back off the table and hit those big loop shots, right? Yeah. You won't be able to do both for sure. So with the chillers, though, the defensive minded people in nineteen thirty eight this legendary match took place the world championships between two of the greatest chisels of all time a polish player named Alex Erlich and a Romanian named paneth Farkas. This was such a like. Like, I mean, I've read into this too. It just doesn't seem like it's possible that the following took place. Okay. Well, this is how it was recorded in nineteen sixty five in Sports Illustrated. All right, there are a lot of little points here. This is nineteen thirty eight by the way. Did you say that? Yeah. Okay. The most epic part of this is it was the first point supposedly the very first point took two hours and twelve minutes to complete. So they just kept hitting it back and forth. It was a two hour and twelve minutes volley. It was zero zero at two hours twelve minutes. That's how good these guys were chiseling or just playing defensively. I somebody hits you hit it right back. Somebody is he hit it right back. You're trying to smash down their throat, and you're just patiently waiting for them to make a mistake. Fast game, still it's not like shirt playing with a six year old, right? But the thing is I it's a fast game. But you as the play. Later improbably as a spectator are like start to feel like you're about to go insane. Because you're locked into this zero zero like for at the time ping pong was played to twenty one. Whoever gets a twenty one first and then you had to still win by two points. So if this was zero zero for two hours and twelve minutes the ball crossed the net twelve thousand times and just don't know if a buy it. That's the problem timewise. Yeah. So here's all the things that supposedly happened a referee in the match is neck locked up and had to be replaced mid point his neck had to be replaced. Yeah. Erlich switched hands because he got tired and played with his left hand for a little while every now, and then a believe that during the point the ITTF got together to negotiate. Shortening. The the match the game to five points instead of twenty one right, but they had to have the proper representatives from the different countries there, and it Ehrlich was the Representative from Poland. So they couldn't have this meeting without him. So they had the meeting table side during the match like during this point as it was going on supposedly Ehrlich had a chessboard setup table side. And during the match was also playing chess and saying what moved to make about that. That's what he said. That's why I don't believe any of this all sounds like tall tale. Well, there are other people there. All right. Well, then he played chess. I don't I don't know about that one. But I do think that there are definite elements to that. I believe that there was a two hour twelve minute period where there was euro two zero. I don't know. That's that's true. Well, there's so much stuff attached to this. It makes me doubt the whole thing Austrian players supposedly went to a movie came back still during the first point. And then finally the Romanian paneth Farkas mister return Ehrlich goes up one. Oh, and then they start in on point number two. They get twenty minutes into that one. And supposedly other members of the polish team pulled out knives and bread and a two foot sausage thinking that they were going to be there forever. And this made Farkas basically lose his mind. He lost his marbles like Burger King. He he went on the attack at that point. He went from being a what do they call the chisel or to going hard on the attack hit it twice Erlich return both? And then he basically lost it supposedly just blasted the ball over his head and ran out screaming. I love that story. This one of the better pingpong stories around. I believe about ten percent of it. All right. Put even if the only thing you believe is that they were zero zero for two hours and twelve minutes. Now, you keep saying I believe that I'm saying even if that is the only thing you believe then that's good enough. Yano by what do you think? Like that. There was a match between these two. And then that's it. Everything else has made up. No, I think I think Laura has taken over in that it has been enriched over the years to where people were going to movies and the dude was playing chess. And sure, yeah, I I just I don't I don't buy that. It went down like that. But do you believe that they were zero zero for two hours and twelve minutes? I don't know if I believe that or not because I haven't seen a verified source other than this guy telling the story. Okay. Where did you see it other than this guy telling the story nowhere? But I mean that takes a lot of gall to just make up that story tell it to Sports Illustrated have it printed in Sports Illustrated, knowing that anybody could go behind you and say, well, let's look at the records for that night in C and just say, well, this guys totally lying will my answer. Is people have goal. Yeah. Well, you and I are going to agree to disagree just to keep things moving because I think at the very least they were zero zero for two hours and twelve minutes, I buy that. Here's what I think. I'm definitely not going to say, well, it was in Sports Illustrated. So it had to be true. All right. All right. So enough Reagan on supports those traded from you. Hey and magazine for many many years. You know, who's on my first cover Giselle bunching. Muhammad ali. Oh, wow. I started getting it when I was a kid. Jeez. Wow. Do you still have that one? But it's worth like seven ten dollars. Now. I do I think my mom kept all the like many many years in a box. It's kind of fun to go through and look every now and then oh, yeah. For sure. All right. So this fake match happens. In the nineteen thirties Jewish table tennis players, and we should point out that many of the early world champions were Jewish men. They fled Germany for England. And then Erlich who we just mentioned the polish player was threatened. Obviously, he was in Poland when the Nazis invaded, and he was sent to Auschwitz, and he was literally being led to the gas chamber when German Nazi guard recognized him and spared his life. Yeah. Like he was about to die and he got moved around from concentration camp to concentration camp until the allies liberated him and others from the concentration camp us in. And then right after the war. He went right back to table tennis, man. Yeah. It's pretty crazy. All right. I think should take a break. Okay. Go talk about Sports Illustrated, some more that the bastion. Of. Journalists and journalism. That's right. And we'll be back right after this. Well now here in Rhode drivin in your shock one. Learn a singer to from Josh Chuck stuff, you should know. All right. Everybody. Josh listeners posted rates have gone up again again. Yes. But you know, what, thankfully or old friends at stamps dot com. Can ease that pain with big discounts off post office retail rates. Yeah, that's true. And with stamps dot com. You can save five cents off every first class stamp and up to forty percent off of priority mail, and that really adds up especially for small businesses. That's right. Everyone knows it stamps dot com. Automatically calculates and prints. The exact amount of posted that you need for every letter every package you send you will. Never overpay or underpay again. Yep. And stamps dot com brings all the services of the US postal service right to your fingertips. You can buy imprint official US postage for any letter any package any class mail using your own computer and printer they'll even send you a free digital scale that automatically calculates exact postage. And right now, it gets great everyone stuff, you should know listeners. Get. Special offer includes a four week trial plus free postage and a digital scale that we just talked about see for yourself. Why over seven hundred thousand small businesses use dams dot com. Just go to stamps dot com. Click on the microphone at the top of the homepage and type in S T U F F that stamps dot com. Enter stuff. All right. So Chuck we were talking about like Chesler's and attackers. And all that I if you play ping pong up until the fifties up until Sato showed up with his phone, paddle. You're basically just chiseling. Everybody was business a patient back and forth game just wants the phone pedals came up it change the game so radically like you said they actually enlarge the size of the ball to increase the air is assistance to it to slow it down. Yeah. Which is a huge change for everybody to get used to as well. I think that was in the two thousands that that change was made. But from the fifty two thousand people were just crushing the ping pong while it got really fast and really fast paced. It was fun. But it got too fast. So the the ITTF stepped in and said note, we gotta make some changes. And that's some of the other things that they've done to. They've made changes in rules over the over the lifetime of ping-pong to to make the game hard and interesting, but also to make it fun to watch too. Yeah. They now you play to eleven in competition play used to be twenty one for most just sort of backyard fun players. It's still twenty one. But these people are twenty one these people are so good though that Twenty-one it's way too long of a game. You can play a point for two and a half hours. Right. Two hours and twelve minutes to be precise. They change sometimes the serve rotation. Like, how many times you serve in a row before you? Switch it up which side you play on. You can't hide the ball when you serve because you know, trenches trying to make the game as fair as possible. The dimensions of the table are kind of interesting. If you're looking at it in meters, if you're from the United States, it's a nine foot long table five feet wide, two and a half feet high. But that's two point seven four meters. One point five to five meters wide seventy six centimeters high right? The net is six inches high. But that's after they lowered it a bit. Have you seen how they make balls? Yeah. Like the little factory. Yeah. You sound like video of it. Be me. I can watch that stuff all day long. I know same here if you if you look at ping pong balls before they're formed into balls. They actually start his little flat plastic circles, and the that was that is one half of a ping pong ball. And they take it, and they form it. They press like a like a ball bearing ping pong ball sized ball bearing in hot water to mold it, and they take to those two halves and put them together and seal them, and then they trim off the fat, and there's you ping pong ball. But that's not the end of the life of the ping pong ball manufacturing process because the the companies that make ping pong ball. Specifically, there's one that's like a globally dominant dominating ping equipment company called double happiness, which we'll talk about later, but they do so much quality control. It's astounding before they sell a pingpong ball. Oh, I'm sure like there's. There is a to to measure bounce. There's like a specific amount of bounce that the I T T A requires for a ping pong ball. And so a company will will measure it by dropping a set height. I think like three hundred millimeters and it has to bounce back up like two forty two to sixty. They measure it with the digital camera that has to have a specific hardness. So these robot with a needle to test the pressure it takes to puncture it with a a needle casper mattresses, but they drop a human. Exactly, the they drove they roll it on an inclined to see where veers. I mean. There's a lot going on there just to make pingpong ball. That's that's usable in a game. Sure. I think that I mean, I think it's top notch. So they take it that seriously. You know, I mean any competition sporting ball undergoes incredible testing, right? It's like they just don't throw out an NFL, football or basketball. Either tennis ball what it's pretty amazing. Yeah. It is but ping pong ping pong balls. That's what I'm talking about here. I think he. I think he secretly are kind of making fun of ping-pong. I don't mean to be. My my my of ping-pong has changed as a result of right researching this how about that? So the paddles themselves they are laminated wood. When you look at them, you can tell with sort of pressed together of different woods. Some of them are fiberglass there are carbon fibre paddles, which I would love to give that whirl yet. But I saw that the eighty five percent of the thickness has to be would says I mean, there's like carbon-fiber in the middle of eighty just to make it like slightly lighter would be my guess. Uh-huh. I have no idea. Okay. There are all kinds of materials like from just the regular. You can still get like this an paper paddles, very low fi. But those that padded rubber on one side and the texture little rubber dimples on the other side, which have to be two different colors, by the way, because the other players supposedly needs to know which side, you're hitting it with right? So they know what's coming or you know, to a varying degree what might be coming, right? But that's sort of like the classic paddle that most people have settled on right now. Yeah. And the the smooth petted side would be for chiseling and the the dimpled side would be for attacking and for probably the most important part of ping-pong spin to add spin to the ball. Yes. A pretty good spinner. Oh, you're like not just won't kind of thinking, you do multiple kinds of spin. Yeah. I've got a good backhand spinner shot. That's very fast, and and sort of flick of the wrist that it it just shoots off the paddle. And then has a nice little topspin to it while and trying to angle that to the furthest corner. Then I can that's really impressive. Chuck. Why didn't say was great at it? But he'd try. That's the aim. This is what's going on in your head at least, right? Yeah. But I'm not like a great. I mean, what even call it a smash or a? Slam an attacker. Well, just the big, you know, oh, the smashmouth. Yes. The smashmouth I'm not against smashmouth or I'm not great. I mean, get lucky every once in a while. But I still try because it's such a boss move. It really is pretty cool, but that's sort of the variation of the loop stroke, which is what you see on TV when someone just throws a big haymaker. It's all in the hips and the legs tons of topspin, and that sort of like that main shot for what would be a big smash to me sort of the regular shot that people volley back and forth on in competition. Right. And when you when you're doing the loop. It's like from what I saw it's an upward chopping motion. Where you're just basically bringing the pedal up really quick as it comes in contact with the ball, which like you said gives it tons of topspin. And there's this thing called the Magnus effect with fluid dynamics, whereas this ping pong is moving through the air the bottom. Or the side of it that spinning into the air is generating more resistance. So there's higher air pressure there than there is on top. And I'm sorry on the bottom which makes the ball fall because there's less pressure there. So when you put spin on the ball, depending on which direction it's going you can make it go left right up down, and depending on the type of the type of what's it called? When you hit the ball, the grip the saying wing upon it, depending on this. I guess is the stroke, depending on the stroke us, you can apply different spin to the ball. But that's the big reason why like one side of a ping pong paddle is dimpled. Yeah. That you can make contact with the ball really kind of grip it while you're giving it that spin. Yeah. Ping. So they're all kinds of grips the the shake hand grip has sort of if you don't play a lot of ping-pong, and it's probably just the standard little grip that you would want to use the pen. Hold grip is what you see my brother and Asian players use. That's got to move the one with the thumb on the back side of it. Yeah. It's basically your thumb and forefinger kinda wrap around the handle and almost touch each other. And then your other three fingers arresting on the back of the paddle itself. And it sort of sort of looks like you're holding the pedal upside down, well 'cause you kind of our yes. But that's my brother is a total penholder. Gotcha. What about the similar Miller grip? Do you ever do that? That's Danny c Miller. That's I didn't really quite get the that's like the shake hand. But what I saw was like the thumb in forefinger are kind of resting on the face of the paddle. Sometimes the finger forefinger is wrapped around sort of on the side of the paddle. What I saw was that. So you've got your three your pinkie finger your ring finger in your index finger or that's on the pedal middle finger are all rep. Yeah. That's on the handle your forefinger and your thumb are like control, they're like up against the edges. Of the paddle. And it makes it easier to spin the paddle and control. That's what I saw is the similar grip. Yeah. Well, it's easier to flip the paddle to use both sides of it. Right. Exactly. So you wanna chisel here, and then maybe a little attack there put some spin on. And then just push it back. You just flip it back and forth. Thanks to Danny c Miller. Yeah. And I love the next part of this article, which is like if you wanna know all the rules of pink Kong, go look up. Right because it would be kind of boring just to read all those out. Sure. But there are. I mean, if you're playing at someone's house, you play house rules just ask what they are. It'd be a good guest. He get guests and say what are the house rules because people play differently? Some more not obscure rules, but sort sort of nit picky rules that casual players might not know independent on on where you play the house rules. It may take effect or not you're supposed to toss the ball at least sixteen centimeters into the air before you serve. Right. My house rule is you just have to have some air between. The like you can't just hold it in your hand and hit it off your hand. Like, we don't say it has to be sixteen centimeters. But there has to be a little bit of air between your hands. I see the ball has to be suspended before you serve it. So what happens if someone violates your house rules or are? They like tired tired and feathered. Now, you say, dude, what are you doing not cool? So here's a smashmouth for you. And you have to serve behind the in line. That's a pretty standard even for house rules like eating over the table. Oh, I see what you mean. You can't lean forward a couple of feet 'cause I was gonna say I thought you were saying like you have to get it inside a squared. You get it to the other square. And I saw that. That's that only applies in doubles. Yeah. You can serve it to either side when you're playing singles, correct. Right. And then if you if it touches your hand that you're holding the paddle with apparently, according to the ITTF your hand is part of the paddle as far as they're concerned. So if it if it bounces off your hand, that's there's nothing wrong with that. Yeah. I always get the thumb hit though. And it always sends it off in a bad direction. Yeah. And I always go, I'm hit you need to do more similar. For C Miller less thumbs. He's right. The pimples believe it or not those are regulated they cannot be larger than two millimeters. But astoundingly the size of the paddle is not at all regulated you could show up with pickle ball, paddle if he wanted to and they'd be like if it works, but the foam padding on either side, if you're a competitive table tennis player, you glue your own foam on cheat it to right? Yeah. For a lot of until the Beijing Olympics, you could from I think the sixties until the Beijing Olympics. They would use a specific kind of glue. That would would it would expand. But at the same time soften the foam underneath the exterior of the foam padding. So you've got like the the layer that like the rubbery layer. And then underneath that is foam like a spongy material. It would get into the pores of that spongy material, and it would make that ball bounce even faster and would just give it a an enormous amount of speed. But just for a short amount of time the right, right? So if you were in a tournament, you were pulling off and then re-glue in your your foam pads on multiple times over the course of that weekend because you get about three or four hours of good. I don't know ricochet return off of those things, and then they would dry up in in. It wouldn't be quite as as useful. Cheaters L of the article sent where they were basically like everyone was doing it everybody. They call it doping table tennis doping. But the problem is is it had a lot of volatile organic compound. So the international table tennis foundation said no, we don't want people getting cancer. So we got a ban it, and they actually test paddles now in a little machine that tests for volatile organic compounds eleven Yup. Get those rats out of the game about you got. To win by two. Like, we said generally played at twenty one at home eleven and competition. I think we said, and then obviously, you just anything is appointed. If you get the points, not like volleyball. You don't have to be serving to get the point right, which I love that too. Makes the game go a lot faster. Yeah. And just whole problem is keeping up with that score. Yeah. That's why you wanna sober person. They're taking keeping school for you. I guess we should finish with this. Well, a couple of things, but you've heard the term ping pong diplomacy. Joe's a big story there. Yeah. That came from a real thing that happened obviously trying to live in isolation for decades and decades from the rest of the world and then during the Cold War. Of course, we were on the US was on the opposite side of China. Not a lot of travel going back and forth or loud between the countries until the international competition of nineteen seventy-one where the Chinese table tennis team went to the championships in Japan. Right Mets, some Americans and in particular one American named Glenn Cowan, and he was so I came in like, we're all the same. Really? We all love table tennis, regardless of our grip let shake hands and he wrote the bus with him on the way back to the hotel. So so let me let me just interject here. He got on the bus accidentally. He had missed his own. Bus and these were buses that were taking the teams to the hotel. And there was like the first ten minutes of this fifteen minute bus ride were silent intense because these two enemy groups were on the same bus in. No, one knew what to do until Jong's Zidong stood up and said, I'm going to go talk to this guy. Yeah. But they got along great. Like, I said they had more in common than they thought and table tennis or ping pong is literally what brought them together. And it was seen as a sort of an emblematic thing flash. Forward a bit to the press covering this. It becomes a big deal. The US table tennis competition team said we want to go to China and like because they're the best of the best over there. And mouse dung said sure come on over they did. So in April nineteen seventy-one they spent a week there. It was big in the news, and it literally kind of thought relations between the US. And China using it paved the way for a trip by Richard Dixon. Like, the the US table tennis team went over there before Nixon did and just shared love of table tennis. And this this just kind of international exposure of these two enemy countries like getting along whatever it takes to build common ground and consensus if it's table tennis, awesome so much the better. So the the it led to to normalize relations between the two countries very quickly like within a year after after the or the beginnings of normalized relations within a year after the the the thing we're all because Ziyang Zidong came over and said, hey, man, I just want to say thank you for playing table tennis and gave him a scarf, and Glenn Cowan had a comb on him. And he's like this isn't a good enough reciprocal gift. So he later gave Zang Zidong a a t shirt with a peace symbol on. It which is pretty cool, man. Richard Nixon well-known lover of sexual in cuisine in marijuana. Yes. Ama- peace symbol t shirts. He was one of those. In public. We should also talk a little bit about ping pong robots in nineteen ninety two. They they built a table tennis robot? It was okay. You could program it to to imitate different styles. But it wasn't like when when you played again when it played against the human being it was what what what what would happen there. It was just shooting them all to the same place at the same. That's right. It was. It's going to go. There wasn't a lot of training from it. But then they started inventing robots that could like Ed spin to it. And right get so moves and that was in the early nineties when they first came out with those than the ones they have today. One came out in two six t two thousand sixteen called f- four S F O R P H E US scary looking. Yeah. It is. And it completes a mean ping pong. But it's it like actually plays you. It's a an AI that plays you ping pong. But it's like a giant mechanical spider? He kind of looking thing yet. It's really creepy. Looking it looks like a? Yeah. It looks like a big spider sitting high above the table across from you. And I saw the video the guy playing in its ES. And he he was felt bad for the guy because you cannot beat the thing. Well, plus, he also goes we'll put some kind of nervous because always watch the ass at one point. He's like zero literally like nothing. I can do this thing went return. They're like, Nope. Yeah. So then he was like, well, why am I even here? Well, yeah. It's an AI. It's it's tracking the ball's velocity trajectory and like making calculations about how to best return it. It's you're not gonna win against it. Nope. Nope. But you can train really. Well, the beat other human socks off with it. That's right. So I don't have anything else to you. I'm looking at my fun facts. I got in. Three of the four the last one here is in nineteen Ninety-three the world record was set between two players who if you're talking like speed ping pong. They hit a back and forth one hundred seventy three times in sixty seconds. Oh my God. That is some serious speed play. That is that's an amazing fact, but it's got nothing on the two hour and twelve minute. Knowing fake news. All right now, you got anything else. All right. Well, if you know more about pingpong, go start playing greatest thing you can ever try to do with your life. And since I said that it's time for listener mail. We should have totally have a ping pong table. Here at work. I agree. I don't think we have room for it anymore. But at one point we probably did I know now where it's all production space production space, and we're like, where's ping pong? I'm gonna call this. Well, we've been getting a lot of heat lately for two errors one of which was sort of a joke by me, which I'm gonna read now, but we should also say about figs and dates and prunes same things. They're all the same thing. It's like it's like, pork ham bacon. Now, we we heard from a lot of people about that. And we understand now. Yeah, we I I mean, I got it flat out wrong. So sorry about that everyone. You can stop telling us now. Right. This is about average life expectancy, which I was kind of just kidding about. I it was I think Spanish flu episode. I made a joke about the life expectancy being fifty or something and it was like, so I'd almost be dead. So I'll just read this. Hey stuffers. Hope this doesn't come across the being snarky your trolley. But I think you should try and clear up the difference between average actual life expectancy and average life expectancy Chuck more than once. So I guess it said this before you've made it sound as if people in the past could only expect to live into the thirties or forties. That is not the case people have well into their sixty seventies eighties nineties just like today, and it gives some prominent examples of old people back in the day. And then he says what drove the average life expectancy down was insanely high rate of infant and childhood mortality people had used families back in the past just to try and ensure that some of their children's survived into adulthood because so many data's infants and others never made it past or second or third year due to mumps, measles, influenza, etc. The absolute horror of whooping cough. Let's not forget polio. In any number of plagues that modern medicine has managed to render vastly less lethal. Thanks, mostly to our friend vaccines. So more and more children are surviving. The battlefield called childhood and growing into adults in the average life expectancy is become much longer. This is a great Email. Thank you western medicine. That's from Joseph Cottrell and Joseph. I was kind of just kidding about that the which time well every time it was a recurring joke. But there was very kind Email, and it was fun in funding in new you. Did it right? So thank you for. Sure. Plus also, you gave you a chance to tell everybody. You know that that's the case. Yeah. And it gave everybody a gave me a chance to let everybody know that. I was totally wrong about dates and fix. Sure. Well, if you want to correct us like Joseph did that was an a plus correction Email Joseph you can get in touch this. Go to stuff, you should know dot com and check out our social links or you can send us an E mail to stuff podcast at how stuff works dot com. For more on this and winds of other topics. Visit how stuff works out com. Hey, everybody, we want to tell you about though, brink a new podcast from how stuff works hosted by Ariel cast in and are good pal. John stricklin. Yeah. They tell stories of entrepreneurship took a bold step thou knowing really what's on the other side like people who've Jancis like Walt Disney betting company and his house on the world's first feature length cartoon. Yes, no, white and the seven dwarfs apparently, even his own wife Lillian and his brother ROY tried to talk them out of it. And Walt say shut up shut up all of you a make it and he did. That's right. You're going to hear stories like this every week stories of trials and triumph featuring men and women who took that bold step. Listen and subscribe at apple podcasts or on the iheartradio app or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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