Study: Beards make you 37% "tougher"?!

I recently got my hands on an interesting study pertaining to beards and their ability to absorb impact.

Yes... this email is shockingly based in science, and not the "toughness" that one feels when failing to shave one's face.

I sincerely apologize to all of the hefty bikers out there.

(That said... perhaps I can interest you in a bike that actually makes you tougher, instead of just waking me up at night with the gurgling of your inefficiently designed motor.)

Nevertheless, the study (which you should click so my email robots know that you're still out there) ...tested for added resistance to fracture by gluing sheep's wool to an epoxy bone-like composite material, setting it on top of an anvil, and then smashing it with a... a... smasher.  

See for yourself:

If the "bone" absorbed the impact showed no signs of damage, they raised the striker another centimeter and tested again... eventually smashing their way through 20 samples of each of the following:

Plucked Samples:  These had ALL of the wool plucked out... essentially emulating a shaved face.

Sheared Samples:  These had the wool shaved to 0.5 cm, to see if a small amount of hair and root changed impact resistance.

Furred Samples:  These were pure, unadulterated sheep's wool... in all of it's glory. 

NOW... the people running this study apparently didn't feel like peeling beards off of cadaver faces... and I can't say I blame them.

But sheep's wool is dramatically more dense than a human beard (6000 follicles per cm2 versus 70 follicles per cm2)... and while human beard hair has follicles 4 times thicker, I think that most of us would be honored to have a beard as thick as sheep's wool.

My feeble beard would simply not provide the same degree of impact absorption...

The study concluded that "furred" samples absorbed energy 37% more effectively without damage... with no significant difference between the sheared and the plucked samples.  

So if you're going to go with a beard, go full hipster. 

Just cut the sleeves off of your flannel before you train.

BUT... resistance to breakage is not necessarily the same thing as resistance to knockout!

Knockouts are caused, in part, by rapid movement of the skull.  If a beard creates a 'bouncing' effect, it could actually lead to more knockouts... despite increasing resistance to breakage of the underlying bone.  

For example, if you put rubber on your fist and punch a skull, fewer bones will break, but the recoil of the rubber actually increases the acceleration of the object being struck.  

I'm not claiming that beards are definitively bouncy, but merely that a different test would be needed to study the actual efficacy of beards in fights.  

If any scientists out there want me to punch some cadavers in the face, please sign me up.  

That's what you get for donating your body to science!

Have a fantastic weekend.


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