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Scientists Calculated the “Rapunzel Number” and Cracked the Secret of the Ponytail

Huzzah! Another scientific mystery bites the dust! Scientists have finally
cracked a problem that has "perplexed humanity since Leonardo da
Vinci pondered it 500 years ago."

Learn all about the Rapunzel Number, which provides a key ratio needed
to calculate the effect of gravity on hair relative to its length. In
the right hands, this dangerous number can predict the shape of any ponytail:

Cambridge Professor Raymond Goldstein told Reuters that he and
his colleagues took account of the stiffness of individual hairs, the
effects of gravity and the average waviness of human hair to come up
with their formula. [...]

"That determines whether the ponytail looks like a fan or
whether it arcs over and becomes nearly vertical at the bottom,"
Goldstein said in a telephone interview.

The research also took into account how a bundle of hair is swelled
by the outward pressure that arises from collisions between the component

Oh, he also mentioned how the Rapunzel Number would also help scientists
deepend their understanding of fibers, as well as be useful in computer
graphics and animation, but we all know that the real reason for the study
is to break the stronghold of the hair stylist mafia on ponytail-wearing


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February 12th, 2012

Stranger to the World


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