It's true; they are.

An upside of the ping pong ball's magical construction (a quick check from #e says that they are not filled with gas - the leading theory is that they just have very good plastic), aside, of course, from delightful bounciness, is very high flammability. These suckers, if heated with a normal lighter, burst into a very impressive display of pyrotechnics.

Note: do not attempt to verify this while drunk. Personal injury may occur. And if you are drunk, try not to be the guy holding the ball.

Originally, ping-pong balls were made out of celluloid. Due to the impure way in which it was created back in the good-old-days of the turn of the centuary, acidifed celluloid exploded when hit too hard and so early ping-pong players had to constantly replace their balls, not because they lost them but because they went bang. Makes you kinda pine for the excitement that these pioneers had... :-)

When I was a destructive pre-teen, my cousin and I would make ping-pong ball smoke bombs.

Take a ping-pong ball and gouge a small hole in it. Break the heads off of as many strike-anywhere matches as you have the patience for, and put them into the ball, along with a few pebbles for friction. Wrap the ball in masking tape, to taste. Hurl the ball high into the air in such a manner as to cause it to collide with a relatively hard surface as gravity causes it to return to the surface of the planet (or a reasonable facsimile). Watch the ball: A) begin to produce copious amounts of foul-smelling smoke, or; B) burst into flames -- either is entertaining enough to be worth the trouble. Repeat.

And, as a bonus, if you omit the step in which you wrap the ball in tape, you can actually watch the disintegration of the ball, a process which is both fascinating and difficult to describe.

Don't actually do this, of course, because it would be wrong.

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