Monday, February 13, 2012

The Ponytail Makes the News!

Couldn't stay away from passing on the latest information from the New York Times (Feb 11) - 2 columns, below the fold, on page A10,  from a piece entitled "Like How Your Hair Hangs?  Praise the Laws of Physics"

I'll just get to the meat of the matter - the physics of the ponytail.  Ponytails have been assigned a "Rapunzel Number" based on how the ponytail hangs.  A low PTRN (Ponytail Rapunzel Number) indicates more springiness, causing the ponytail to "fan outward."  A high PTRN indicates a longer ponytail which hangs down rather than fans outward, according to three researchers from England.

But more recently, a Stanford mathematician discovered why joggers' ponytails sway side-to-side instead of forward and backward, or up and down.  Can you guess why?  It's because the jogger's head prevents a forward-backward motion and up-down motion is "unstable"(independent of Rapunzel numbers, I guess.)

The Stanford mathematician and the British researchers are now collaborating on some more advanced studies for a "better understanding of ponytails."

I look forward to the fruits of their future collaborative efforts with great anticipation!

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