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The Physics of Bras - Overcoming Newton's second law with better bra technology
Discover.com ^ | 11-10-2005 | Anne Casselman

Posted on 11/10/2005 9:18:48 AM PST by jmc813

One side effect of the obesity epidemic in America is rarely noted: Women's chests are expanding nearly as fast as their bellies. Poor eating habits, as well as breast implants and the estrogens in birth-control pills, have led to an increase in the past 15 years of more than one bra size for the average American woman—from a 34B to a 36C. For many women, this has been a burdensome trend. A pair of D-cup breasts weighs between 15 and 23 pounds—the equivalent of carrying around two small turkeys. The larger the breasts, the more they move and the greater the discomfort. In one study, 56 percent of women suffered from breast pain when jogging.

"Women will limit themselves from doing exercise because of their breasts," says Deirdre McGhee, a sports physiotherapist and graduate student in biomechanics at the University of Wollongong in Australia. "They actually deprive themselves."

An x-ray scan of a bra reveals major structural elements, including straps, fasteners, and underwires.

And the less they exercise, the more obese and buxom they may become.

For most women, a good bra is still the best remedy. According to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, nearly 500 million bras were sold in the United States in 2001; last year, sales totaled more than $5 billion. As breasts have grown, so have the demands of customers, the scientific sophistication of bra design, and the competition among bra manufacturers. "Women like their bras to be sexy and sensual and comfy and supportive," McGhee says. "And to get all that is rare." Yet after nearly a century of experimentation, the perfect bra may well be in sight.

Bra designers begin with a significant handicap: The structure of breasts is still something of a mystery. Evolutionary biologists aren't sure why breasts evolved as they did—chimpanzees and other mammals develop them only when lactating—and no one knows what keeps them from sagging. An individual breast is made up of between 15 and 20 sections, known as lobes. These are composed of smaller lobules that end in bulbs that produce milk and are interconnected by a network of ducts. But breasts contain no muscles at all, and the bulbs and ducts are essentially the same in all women. Size is mainly determined by how much fat the breasts contain. Most anatomists believe the breasts' primary means of support are the Cooper's ligaments interlaced among the lobules. But others give the skin more credit.

Bra designers begin with a significant handicap: The structure of breasts is still something of a mystery. Evolutionary biologists aren't sure why breasts evolved as they did—chimpanzees and other mammals develop them only when lactating—and no one knows what keeps them from sagging. An individual breast is made up of between 15 and 20 sections, known as lobes. These are composed of smaller lobules that end in bulbs that produce milk and are interconnected by a network of ducts. But breasts contain no muscles at all, and the bulbs and ducts are essentially the same in all women. Size is mainly determined by how much fat the breasts contain. Most anatomists believe the breasts' primary means of support are the Cooper's ligaments interlaced among the lobules. But others give the skin more credit.

To best support breasts, a designer has to understand how they move. To that end, McGhee's team in Australia, headed by biomechanist Julie Steele, tags women with light-emitting diodes and asks them to run on treadmills. (The women run with and without bras, so the laboratory doors are bolted to prevent uninvited people from bursting in.) Computer systems then track the breasts' motions in three dimensions by following the moving lights. "We can actually work out exactly where they're going, how they're moving, and how this movement is affected by bras," Steele says. Breasts move in a sinusoidal pattern, Steele has found, and they move a lot. Small breasts can move more than three inches vertically during a jog, and large breasts sometimes leave their bras entirely. "We have videos of women who, particularly if the cup is too low, spill all over the top," Steele says.

The larger the breasts and the more they move, the more momentum they generate. To change or stop that momentum requires a large force, usually applied through bra straps. When straps are thin, the pressure exerted through them can be so great as to leave furrows in the shoulders of large-breasted women. As the straps dig into the brachial plexus, the nerve group that runs down the arm, they may cause numbness in the little finger. In some cases, breasts can slap against the chest with enough force to break the clavicle.

"Force equals mass times acceleration," Steele says. "That's Newton's second law. You have a large mass, and it's going quickly, and the force is going to be large. If you have breasts that are slapping down and hitting the chest and having to come back up, they accelerate very quickly." No one really knows the long-term medical consequences of "excessive breast bounce," as Steele calls it. But it can cause pain and is the most likely reason for sagging breasts.

There are two ways to keep breasts from moving: encapsulation and compression. Encapsulation bras look like the old-fashioned brassieres our grandmothers wore, with large molded cups that completely contain the breast. Compression bras are more popular but less comfortable: They squash the breasts against the body, thereby reducing the amount of weight the bra has to cantilever.

Since the 1800s, when women used corsets stiffened by whalebone to support their breasts, bra designers have experimented with innumerable structures and materials. "Making a bra is like building a bridge," says Manette Scheininger, a senior vice president of design, merchandising, and research and development at Maidenform. "You have weight that has to be uplifted. You have to have support all around." Larger breasts compound the challenge, Scheininger says. "And not just by a little bit. The challenge grows dramatically."

The first sports bra was created in 1977, when two American women took a pair of jockstraps, cut them apart, and sewed them back together. They dubbed their creation the Jogbra. Other bra designs since then have used gel and water pads, silver fibers that cool the skin and dispel bacterial growth and body odor, and air bags that wearers can pump up to enhance the appearance of their breasts. This past summer, a virtually stitchless bra was introduced by Wacoal, a leading manufacturer. The bra is molded, compressed, and shaped at the same time—"sort of like a car fender," Wacoal designer Linda Hyde says. Thanks to cylindrical hosiery machines, other bras can now be knit in circular patterns with differing amounts of stretch and support.

Steele's team is taking fabric technology another step. Six years ago, her laboratory, in collaboration with the University of Wollongong's Intelligent Polymer Research Institute, began work on the world's first smart bra. It uses intelligent materials and electronic textiles to sense when breast motion increases and tighten appropriate parts of the bra in response. "When you're sitting around the office, it isn't restrictive," Steele says. "But if you need to run for a bus or something, it will sense that you've started to run, and it will give you the support of a sports bra." Steele's lab has teamed up with Marks & Spencer, a major retailer in Britain, to further develop the project.

Meanwhile, McGhee and Steele have their sights set beyond tinkering with bra straps and fabrics. They are using Steele's extensive work on the biomechanics of breasts to explore an entirely new way of designing bras. Starting in the 1970s, podiatrists and biomechanists radically redesigned running shoes to make them lighter and more stable. Steele and McGhee hope to accomplish a similar paradigm shift and correct the problem with the most supportive bras: They are also rated the most uncomfortable. "We're not testing a product but a concept," says Steele. "What we're trying to bring in now is an idea that will not be a gimmick—understanding the structure, function, and the movement and putting them all together with the science underpinning it."

Steele and McGhee are reluctant to divulge any details for fear of tipping off rival designers—"It's a really dirty game," McGhee says. But initial trials are under way while they stake out intellectual property rights. Given that more than 30 percent of American women now wear D cups and larger, the team shouldn't have trouble finding a commercial partner if they succeed. When it comes to bras, the usual rules of exercise are reversed: No pain, very much gain.


TOPICS: Chit/Chat; Health/Medicine; Miscellaneous; Science
KEYWORDS: bras; breasts; gobblegobble; themeaningoflife; turkeys

1 posted on 11/10/2005 9:18:49 AM PST by jmc813
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To: pissant

ping


2 posted on 11/10/2005 9:19:16 AM PST by jmc813 (Compassionate Conservatism is Gay)
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To: jmc813

This is the 5th bra thread in 2 days. What's up guys?


3 posted on 11/10/2005 9:20:18 AM PST by Hoodlum91 (Rights to this tagline for sale on eBay)
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To: jmc813; PaulaB; Dashing Dasher; Jersey Republican Biker Chick; najida; teenyelliott; grellis; ...

I guess this weeks theme is "breasts" ping.


4 posted on 11/10/2005 9:22:22 AM PST by Millee (As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!!)
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To: jmc813
An x-ray scan of a bra reveals major structural elements, including straps, fasteners, and underwires.

Wow! Without the invention of the x-ray machine, we'd never know what was inside those things!

5 posted on 11/10/2005 9:23:11 AM PST by ClearCase_guy
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To: Hoodlum91

We've found something that we can fully support.


6 posted on 11/10/2005 9:23:54 AM PST by GreyFriar (3rd Armored Division -- Spearhead)
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To: jmc813

Thank you for keeping me abreast of the situation.


7 posted on 11/10/2005 9:24:33 AM PST by jw777
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To: Millee

"breasts ping."

for the men it would be "boob ping."


8 posted on 11/10/2005 9:24:53 AM PST by peacebaby (I'm not overwhelmed! I'm just the right amount of whelmed.)
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To: Millee; Owl_Eagle; Sam's Army; Lazamataz; Darksheare; pissant; Dashing Dasher; najida; ...
"I guess this weeks theme is "breasts" ping."

Thanks for the PING, MIllee

Another BRA/BREAST PING!!! What is up this week? Or do I have to ask?

9 posted on 11/10/2005 9:26:07 AM PST by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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To: Hoodlum91
"This is the 5th bra thread in 2 days. What's up guys?"

loaded question.
10 posted on 11/10/2005 9:26:40 AM PST by jaydubya2
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To: jmc813; PaulaB; Dashing Dasher; Jersey Republican Biker Chick; najida; Millee

"...breasts contain no muscle...."

I beg to differ! I've muscled my way into many an excellent situation because of my breasts.


11 posted on 11/10/2005 9:26:49 AM PST by peacebaby (I'm not overwhelmed! I'm just the right amount of whelmed.)
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To: jmc813
Get the physicists!


12 posted on 11/10/2005 9:27:54 AM PST by BikerNYC (Modernman should not have been banned.)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick
To that end, McGhee's team in Australia, headed by biomechanist Julie Steele, tags women with light-emitting diodes and asks them to run on treadmills. (The women run with and without bras, so the laboratory doors are bolted to prevent uninvited people from bursting in.)

Yeeouuchh!!!
13 posted on 11/10/2005 9:28:01 AM PST by Millee (As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!!)
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To: Millee

I run without a bra and I may blacken my eyes!


14 posted on 11/10/2005 9:28:59 AM PST by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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To: peacebaby

"I've muscled my way into many an excellent situation because of my breasts."

Agreed! I've also gotten myself out of situations with them.

Personally after reading that D cups weigh between 15-23 pounds, I'm going to start deducting that amount from my overall weight. After all, the guys can't stop ogling THAT part of me.


15 posted on 11/10/2005 9:29:15 AM PST by Hoodlum91 (Rights to this tagline for sale on eBay)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

They're my excuse not to run. Ever.


16 posted on 11/10/2005 9:30:06 AM PST by Hoodlum91 (Rights to this tagline for sale on eBay)
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To: peacebaby

LOL, ain't that the truth. They have no real muscle, but the make men's muscles react!


17 posted on 11/10/2005 9:30:12 AM PST by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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To: Hoodlum91

You and me both!


18 posted on 11/10/2005 9:30:54 AM PST by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

Titties galore ~ Bump ~ Bump!


19 posted on 11/10/2005 9:32:32 AM PST by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: blackie

I'll bet you arec loving it too.


20 posted on 11/10/2005 9:33:38 AM PST by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

I agree too..I stick to a leisurely walk and still bounce a bit


21 posted on 11/10/2005 9:35:34 AM PST by DenverGal
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To: jmc813

22 posted on 11/10/2005 9:36:05 AM PST by w_over_w (This tagline is blank, well, not actually blank but it would be if I didn't just tell you.)
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To: jmc813

Evolved or intelligent design?? Evolution makes absolutely no sense.


23 posted on 11/10/2005 9:36:07 AM PST by Sacajaweau (God Bless Our Troops!!)
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To: jmc813

24 posted on 11/10/2005 9:37:10 AM PST by theFIRMbss
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To: jmc813

Wow - now I'm really behind the power curve. Back to training bras for me! Or maybe I should just use Duct Tape.


25 posted on 11/10/2005 9:37:18 AM PST by meowmeow (Meow! Meow!)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

Ya can't have too many!!


26 posted on 11/10/2005 9:37:31 AM PST by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: Hoodlum91

Some days, it feels like that weight doubles!


27 posted on 11/10/2005 9:38:18 AM PST by Bush_Democrat (Ex-Democrat since 2001)
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To: jmc813
>The Physics of Bras

Bras: Even Howard Hughes designed one

August 17, 1996
Web posted at: 6:40 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Janine Sharell

NEW YORK (CNN) -- As women's roles have changed, so has the shape and fit of the brassiere.

Bras are worn by women in many cultures, but most women do not know much about their history.

The modern bra was designed more than 70 years ago. Maidenform introduced a bra made by Ina Rosenthal and Enid Bissett in 1922.

The original bra is on display at the Maidenform Museum in New York, as are variations on the original that help trace its development from the filmy, decorative bras of the past to the supportive, form-enhancing bras of the 1990s.

Dr. Miriam Stoppard details the transformations of the bra in her book, "The Breast Book." She discusses the advances made in bra technology as well as the bra's ability to conform to current styles and shapes.

Citing examples from flappers to Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe, Stoppard traces trends in bras that make modern bras seem like a more advanced copy of past designs.

Modern styles emphasize curves and cleavage. Stoppard points to Jane Russell and, believe it or not, industrialist Howard Hughes, as early contributors to this style. Early cleavage enhancers included an inflatable bra that was blown up with a straw and plugged with a stopper.

Hughes designed a better garment to show off Russell's cleavage in 1943's "The Outlaw." Hughes built aircraft and interested some of his best engineers in designing the first cantilevered bra for Russell.

The bra, which lifts and separates the breasts, helped Russell to become a legend.

Modern brassieres often mimic Russell's style by creating curvy silhouettes and feminine shapes. Padded bras are in vogue now, outselling most other styles.

Stoppard says the most important qualities to look for in a brassiere are not high-tech shaping and construction, but fit and comfort. She says eight out of 10 women wear a bra that's the wrong size, and this happens most often with large-busted women.

Bustier women should look for wider shoulder straps and multiple hooks in the back for added support. All women should seek the advice of a specialty fitter to determine the right fit, style and size.

Once a woman has found the right style, she should be sure to wear it correctly, putting the bra on while leaning over.

Stoppard is quick to point out that breast shape and bras are subject to the changes of the fashion world. Flappers used to bind their breasts for a flat-chested look, while today's models are touting large, curvy cleavage as the definition of beauty.

28 posted on 11/10/2005 9:40:51 AM PST by theFIRMbss
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To: jmc813

Ping for reasons that I don't understand...


29 posted on 11/10/2005 9:50:02 AM PST by MarineBrat (When it rains, New Orleans makes its own gravy.)
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To: Millee

Quite coincidental. I was just adjusting a bra strap earlier today.


30 posted on 11/10/2005 10:09:03 AM PST by Mike Bates (Irish Alzheimer's victim: I only remember the grudges.)
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To: Mike Bates

You can freepmail me if you feel more comfortable, but please tell me it wasn't yours.


31 posted on 11/10/2005 10:11:44 AM PST by Millee (As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!!)
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To: bentfeather

PING!
Cap'n B


32 posted on 11/10/2005 10:14:17 AM PST by MS.BEHAVIN (Women who behave rarely make history.)
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To: Millee
I just knew someone - probably you - would suggest that. No, it wasn't mine. I save that for weekends on Chicago's North Side.
33 posted on 11/10/2005 10:18:39 AM PST by Mike Bates (Irish Alzheimer's victim: I only remember the grudges.)
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To: theFIRMbss

34 posted on 11/10/2005 10:18:50 AM PST by Peepster (I'm new here so I hope I do things right...)
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To: Mike Bates

Well if you're gonna lead with the chin dear.........


35 posted on 11/10/2005 10:20:52 AM PST by Millee (As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!!)
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To: Hoodlum91

WHAT! 15 to 23 pounds!

Dang right, I'm deducting that too.

Yeppers, that's were all that extra weight came from.


36 posted on 11/10/2005 10:21:43 AM PST by najida (Sometimes the only justice we'll ever get is having our story heard.)
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To: Millee

Straight lines 'R Us.


37 posted on 11/10/2005 10:22:36 AM PST by Mike Bates (Irish Alzheimer's victim: I only remember the grudges.)
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To: Hoodlum91

So what do the breasts of lactating women weigh? One week postpartum and two weeks postpartum have to be the worst.


38 posted on 11/10/2005 10:27:21 AM PST by petitfour
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To: MS.BEHAVIN; GummyIII; LUV W; TASMANIANRED; StarCMC

SNAP!

39 posted on 11/10/2005 10:39:33 AM PST by Soaring Feather
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To: bentfeather

Thanks for the ping. Sorry I was late to the table.


40 posted on 11/11/2005 7:37:46 AM PST by TASMANIANRED (Conservatives are from earth. Liberals are from Uranus.)
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To: ValerieUSA

Science marches on.


41 posted on 11/15/2005 9:50:20 AM PST by SunkenCiv (Down with Dhimmicrats! I last updated my FR profile on Wednesday, November 2, 2005.)
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To: SunkenCiv
"We have videos of women who, particularly if the cup is too low, spill all over the top," Steele says.

Is this a video advertisement?

42 posted on 11/15/2005 11:32:42 AM PST by ValerieUSA
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To: SunkenCiv
(The women run with and without bras, so the laboratory doors are bolted to prevent uninvited people from bursting in.)

In the south we would say "bustin' in."

43 posted on 11/15/2005 11:35:24 AM PST by ValerieUSA
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To: ValerieUSA

I'm sure that's an accident. ;')


44 posted on 11/15/2005 11:50:04 AM PST by SunkenCiv (Down with Dhimmicrats! I last updated my FR profile on Wednesday, November 2, 2005.)
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Heated bra aims to save the world
BBC News | 11/9/05 | Staff
Posted on 11/09/2005 6:58:06 AM PST by Millee
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1518713/posts


45 posted on 11/16/2005 8:15:59 AM PST by SunkenCiv (Down with Dhimmicrats! I last updated my FR profile on Wednesday, November 2, 2005.)
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To: jmc813

Better fat than silicone.


46 posted on 11/20/2005 8:37:42 PM PST by reg45
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Comment #47 Removed by Moderator

To: jmc813

"We know more about bras than you do."


48 posted on 02/24/2006 1:58:06 PM PST by dfwgator
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