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May 02, 2011
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Urch Deepreach is a mathematics professor at UBC and studies the mysterious yet fascinating science of hair in his spare time.

If someone were to have come to me as a small boy and told me that I would pursue a career in the study of hair I would have not been surprised.  However, I did not pursue a career in hair science, rather it is just a fleeting hobby.  I find hair to be radically important in the construct of our society.  For instance, one can easily discern the ethnicity of another by examining their arm hair.  Red buoyancy?  You must be Scottish.  In Renaissance times, those of lower status were breed in such a manner that their hair could not grow beyond four inches, in an attempt to distinguish between the nobility and the lower class by hair length.  Nonetheless, hair of all types plays a key role in our lives.

But what is hair exactly?  According to dermatologists, hair is the product of cellular waste, thus, the more waste our cells expel, the richer and thicker our hair grows.  In fact, in extreme cases of constipation and long absence from bowel movement, waste expulsion through hair can result in chunky, sinewy deposits known as dreadlocks.

There is much controversy over the value of hair.  For instance, many men become troubled when they begin to lose hair, yet become equally as troubled when gratuitous hair appears in their food, or wedged generously within a woman's underparts.  And why is other people's hair welcomed when it comes in wig form yet rejected when it presents its self on the floor of a subway cart?  This idea is known as Sampson's paradox, and continues to be studied by leading dermatologists today. 

Some argue that dog hair carries superior value to human hair, as consumption of the hair of the dog is known to cure ailments such as hangovers.

Like many parts of our planet, hair continues to be a mystery that has yet to be solved.  At least we can still wonder about it in the meantime.

- Urch Deepreach, Professor of Mathematics at UCB

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