Science: The Frisbee Fiasco

No one at the Pentagon is talking about who originated the idea. But somehow, back in 1968, the Navy began experimenting with those saucer-shaped toys called Frisbees, ostensibly to find a better way to keep flares aloft. Last week, after spending $375,000 on the Frisbee project, the Navy admitted that it was a flop.

On the face of it, the scheme was not all that farfetched. Flares are usually fired from the ground high into the air or dropped from a plane to light up a target at night. To extend the time of illumination, parachutes are used to slow the...

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