The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS), defined at http://www.improbable.com/projects/hair/hair-club-top.html as "a club for scientists who have, or believe they have, luxuriant flowing hair," has announced the winners of its annual contest for scientists with outstanding heads of hair, Richard Morin reports in the Washington Post of Dec. 19, 2004.
The Women of the Year are three sisters--Johanna, Laurel, and Elisabeth Bobrow--who have a total of "more than 7 feet of hair," according to a LFHCfS press release. Johanna, a staff biologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory, has hair that "is 49 inches long and is currently dark blue," says the release. Laurel is an MIT student majoring in brain and cognitive science. Elisabeth is an electrical engineer with BAE Systems.
LFHCfS was founded by Marc Abrahams, who also created the Ig Nobel Awards and edits the Annals of Improbable Research. Abrahams explained to Morin that he got the idea for LFHCfS when his wife told him of a dream she'd had about Steven Pinker, a Harvard psychologist with noteworthy hair.
Abrahams said his wife "had a dream that she would be editing a special issue of a psychology journal, and that the one editorial rule she was given was that every article had to mention Steven Pinker's luxuriant flowing hair." [Editor's note: Such a dream is technically called a nightmare.]
Alec E. Kelley of West Chester, PA., sent in an ad for the PROZONE in the Philadelphia Inquirer of Nov. 18, 2004. According to http://www.biotechresearch.com, the PROZONE is an air purifier that "safely generates ozone to destroy household air pollution."
The ad reads: "Organic pollutants removed by the PROZONE include fungus, bacteria, formaldehyde, ammonia from pet urine, cooking odors, skunk odors, ferret odors, fecal and other urinary odors, perfumes, colognes, tobacco, smoke, and creosote from fireplaces. It also removes viruses."
The list of "inorganic" pollutants removed by the PROZONE is just as surprising: "dust, methylene chloride, phenols, PCBs, humic acid, DIMPs, glycerols, kepones, methyl ethyl keytones, acetone from fingernail filings, styrene, nitro compounds, formic acid, benzoic, butanes, ethanes, pentanes, propanes, methanes, alcohols, cyanides, detergents, phosphates, and many more."
Kelley says part of the ad's question-and-answer section reads as follows: "Q. But why do they give ozone levels in air pollution alerts? Does ozone cause an allergic reaction? A. Absolutely not. Ozone relieves allergies. That alert is a big misunderstanding. Nature increases ozone in high-pollution conditions to balance out pollution. So the weather services measure ozone levels to determine how high the pollution [is] because ozone is easy to measure."
In addition, the ad says the device "disperses activated oxygen like guided missiles throughout the room." Kelley comments, "It would seem to me to be a real health hazard to anyone in the room at the time, and it doesn't tell you that you should be out of the room while it does its work."
If the PROZONE also happens to remove the hair that long-haired people shed all over the house, it might make a nice prize for the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists to give its winners. They can be trusted to use the device without injuring anyone, as long as they don't re-gift it to nonscientists.
This week's column was written by