From Rapunzel to the Hair Club for Men, hair holds a prominent role in culture and society. But the story goes deeper. Some scientists believe that different kinds of hair evolved for different reasons, such as curly hair to keep people cool in warmer climates and straight hair to keep those in colder climates warm. In fact, so much of your body heat escapes from your head that it is no wonder that hair plays at least some part in keeping your body warm. But how much weight can your hair actually hold?
The average human head has 150,000 single hairs on it. With hair growing at a rate of half an inch a month, most people opt to style it or cut off the split ends to keep it maintaining its healthy glow. But it turns out that attractive human hair has a role in the reproductive process. Christophe Soligo at London's Museum of Natural History maintains that shiny and healthy hair is an outward sign of health, making others want to mate with the person for the purpose of producing healthy offspring.
Hair as a Lifesaver
Human hair can actually guard against bullets and arrows. Although Kevlar is now used in protective vests, Dr. Frédéric Leroy of the London Museum of Natural History claims that human hair is, pound for pound, about as strong as Kevlar. In April of 2009, a Missouri woman reported to My Fox News that her weave saved her life. After an attacker shot a would-be fatal bullet, the bullet bounced off of her fake hair, making a weave (or fake hair attached to human hair) essentially become a lifesaver.
A Full Head of Hair
Dr.Frédéric Leroy estimates that an entire head of human hair (about 150,000 strands) is strong enough to support 12 tons, which is equivalent to the weight of two full grown elephants.
The Rapunzel Equation
Matt Spring, of Science Blogs, calculated how much weight Rapunzel's hair would be able to support if it were to be climbed up a tower. Using his own theory, he concluded that a 63-lb, person would be able to climb human hair up a 90-foot tower (see Resources).
One Human Hair
One human hair, or 1/150,000 of that weight, can hold a small bottle of make-up, a travel-sized bottle of shampoo or 3/8 of a cup. The Transportation Security Administration allows travelers only 3 oz. of liquid on the plane with them, which, coincidentally, is exactly the amount of weight a human hair can support.