The Ponytail is a Math Equation!!

The Ponytail is a Math Equation!!

 

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I was completely in shock when researching the history of the ponytail when I found that there was an equation formulated for the ponytail.

 

 

 

Yes, it’s true; scientists have created a mathematical formula that predicts the shape of the ponytail! It takes into account the stiffness of hairs, the effects of gravity and the frequency of random curls or waves in the hair. It also explains why a ponytail moves from side to side based on mathematics. How wild!

 

 

 

The Rapunzel number is a quotient used to calculate the effects of gravity on hair comparative to its length. This number will determine whether a ponytail looks like a fan or if it will arc and become nearly vertical at the bottom. The shorter a ponytail of springy hair with a low Rapunzel number, will fan outward. A long ponytail with a high Rapunzel number, hangs downward, as the pull of gravity overwhelms the springiness. This research actually won the Ig Nobel for Physics in 2012.

 

 

 

The formula, which is quite complicated, is summarized on the graph below.

 

 

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The full details of their research can be viewed here. How amazingly interesting is hair? Come practice your math and physics skills when viewing our pony wig here.

 

History of Wig Making

Wig making historyWigs are definitely not a modern invention. These important head coverings, often used to denote social rank and for cosmetic purposes (e.g. to improve one’s appearance or to cover up baldness), enjoy a rich and varied history that reflects people’s attitudes in society throughout the ages.

 

Early Wig Uses

 

While most people would often conjure up images of stern-looking, Victorian-era men with powdered poufs, the history of wigs go way earlier than the 18th century. In southwestern France, anthropologists have discovered an ivory carving of a woman’s head wearing a wig.

 

The wearing of wigs is a reflection of people’s obsession with the abundance of hair, and how it signifies good health, wealth, and prosperity. In recorded history, there are instances wherein people have taken to wearing wigs for the sake of vanity, despite these objects being unwieldy and impractical for the time.

 

For example, the practice of wearing wigs is widely-spread in ancient Egypt despite the sizzling climate. This is proven by an intricately woven wig specimen discovered in the Temple of Isis at Thebes, dated to be around 3,000 years old and currently housed at the British Museum. Ancient Egyptians wore their hair short for comfort. In order to protect their heads from the sun, the poor wore mere caps while the rich wore elaborate wigs made out of human hair or fiber from the palm tree.

Wigs were also popular among the ancient Greeks, who used them to enhance their looks. In Rome, emperors Hannibal and Nero were known to use wigs as disguises when they went into battle.

 

After falling out of fashion during the Plague, wigs became in vogue once more in France during Louis XVI’s reign. Louis XVI used wigs in order to hide his baldness. The wig-wearing trend started by Louis XVI also became the driving force for French wig makers to develop most of the processes that is still used in modern wig-making up to this age.

 

The Wig Making Process

 

AtaraThe oldest method for making wigs involves weaving hair around a silk warp to form a “weft”- a small fringe structure that will be used as a “building block” for the wig. The wefts are then sewn and styled onto a foundation made out of the net, silk, and other materials.

 

The modern method for making wigs was developed by wig-makers guilds in France during the 19th century. Here the hair is directly woven onto the foundation material (usually a flesh colored net) using a ventilating needle (similar to the needles used for embroidery). This process resulted into wigs that fitted snugly to the head, thus looking more “natural” than wigs produced using the weft method.

 

Modern Wig Uses

 

Though, in modern times the use of wigs as a social status signifier has been long erased, wigs still remain a valuable accessory for some people. It is used to cover up balding heads, while actors use it whenever they need to portray a character on screen or in the theater. Women often use wigs or hair extensions on top of their natural hair for cosmetic purposes.

 

The history of wig making is one that will certainly interest a lot of people, especially those who use these objects regularly. It reveals a lot about people’s attitudes toward vanity, hygiene, and social status- some important “hair-raising” topics indeed.

Sheitels, Wigs, and Whigs

Real Human Hair Wigs in HistoryIn a past post, we discussed the rich history of wigs, whether synthetic or real human hair wigs. That history is as vast as the number of hairs on a human head, so we figured we’d tackle the topic some more.

 

The earliest known use of the word wig is from the 1500s, but at that time they called it parrucca or perruque. Imagine the advertisements. Look glamorous in a perruque by Pierre! Doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it? Eventually, the word morphed into periwig with periwigged being the proper description for wearers of this headgear. Periwig became wig and the rest is history.

 

Interestingly, the prevalence of wigs throughout history has caused the development of interesting wiggy expressions. If someone proclaims, “He’s totally flipped his wig,” he’s employing a 20th century term for going completely bonkers. The Irish had a colloquialism in the 1800s for fighting. They called it “wigs on the green” since many fights resulted in everyone’s wigs lying on the grass. In 1725, someone coined the phrase “big wig” to describe the important people who wore wigs as a sign of their wealth or stature. We still use the term today, though wigs are not necessarily a sign of stature anymore.

 

Contrary to popular belief, the Whig party had absolutely nothing to do with wigs. They may have worn them though.

 

Check in next time and learn more about the history of human hair wigs for women (or men)!

What’s the deal with powdered wigs?

human hair wigs for womenAdmittedly, when people imagine someone wearing a wig these days, they usually imagine a wonderfully crafted real human hair wig; this, however, was not always the case. Wigs have changed throughout history and been made with just about everything imaginable: countless types of feathers, furs, and fabrics. One instance of wigs in history that almost everyone has laid eyes on is those wild white powdered wigs seen in antiquated portraits and representations of early Europeans and their colonies. Where did they come from and what do they represent? They certainly can’t have the same goal as modern hair wigs for women, right?

Well, first and foremost, these powdered wigs were almost entirely worn by men. Moreover, generally, they were either wealthy, upper-class, or of some sort of nobility. The style gained popularity in the mid 1500s when a varied milieu of circumstances and living situations drove certain diseases throughout a large sector of the population. A few of the more populous diseases were known to cause balding and hair loss–and for men of a certain class this baldness was unacceptable. From there, it became the norm for adult men with power and money to wear these new status symbols. It quickly evolved to a point where even men who were not balding would opt to wear a powdered wig.

Wigs Throughout History

sheitelsWigs have reached a point in their history where they are used in dozens of different applications all over the world. From hair correction to acting and religious rituals, very few cultures have no account of the use of faux hair. Whether they used horsehair, wool, feather, or real human hair wigs, there is an interesting trend in our species for the use of wigs for various reasons. Let’s take a look at some of the varying uses for makeshift human hair over the course of time and space.

 

In ancient Egypt wigs were not only used for fashion purposes but also to shield their shaved heads from the sun–often using beeswax to fasten to their heads. Continuing into the 16th and 17th centuries, we continue to see the use of hair wigs for women and for gentlemen of the time. Often related to the surge of royalty that somewhat defined the world’s cultural relations, wigs had begun to see their rise as an upper-class symbol. This set the tone for wig use for the next few centuries. Aristocratic use of wigs not only gave the impression of a certain amount of wealth but also power. The power aspect can still be noted today in governments that are under, somewhat antiquated, colonial laws–namely, in their government processes that often require the wearing of a white or grey wig.