A small Scottish island is now the sole source of Olympic curling stone granite
From NPR Science Friday -- Ten miles off the west coast of Scotland, the Firth of Clyde flows around a small island shaped like a sugar loaf called Ailsa Craig. In breadth, it’s shy of a mile but rises steeply to more than 1,100 feet, carpeted with grass and heather. An abandoned watchtower recalls a time when people once lived on the island, though today it’s completely uninhabited. Devoid of rats but full of rabbits, the outcrop is also a bird sanctuary where species such as gannets, guillemots, and puffins breed on rocky cliffs during the spring. The island is for sale. Its owner—the Marquess of Ailsa—is asking 1.5 million pounds, or just under $2.5 million. Whoever buys it will have the distinct honor of sharing a part of Winter Olympics history.
Ailsa Craig has been a source of granite used in every official Olympic curling event. Kay’s of Scotland, a family-owned curling stone business that traces its origins back to 1851, has exclusive access to the island’s quarries and makes the Olympic stones, according to Mark Callan, the company's field sales and service manager. For this winter’s games, Kay’s—which corners about 65 percent of the new curling stone market—crafted 80 stones and picked the best 66 to go to Sochi.
Read the entire article at: http://www.sciencefriday.com/articles/getting-to-the-core-of-olympic-cur...