skip to main content


Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Plumb-Reyes, Thomas B."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Combing hair involves brushing away the topological tangles in a collective curl, defined as a bundle of interacting elastic filaments. Using a combination of experiment and computation, we study this problem that naturally links topology, geometry and mechanics. Observations show that the dominant interactions in hair are those of a two-body nature, corresponding to a braided homochiral double helix. This minimal model allows us to study the detangling of an elastic double helix driven by a single stiff tine that moves along it and leaves two untangled filaments in its wake. Our results quantify how the mechanics of detangling correlates with the dynamics of a topological quantity, the link density, that propagates ahead of the tine and flows out the free end as a link current. This in turn provides a measure of the maximum characteristic length of a single combing stroke in the many-body problem on a head of hair, producing an optimal combing strategy that balances trade-offs between comfort, efficiency and speed of combing in hair curls of varying geometrical and topological complexity. 
    more » « less