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Building a Better Bike Helmet Out of Paper 317

An anonymous reader writes "Inspired by nature, a London man believes the solution to safer bike helmets is to build them out of paper. '"The animal that stood out was the woodpecker. It pecks at about ten times per second and every time it pecks it sustains the same amount of force as us crashing at 50 miles per hour," says Surabhi. "It's the only bird in the world where the skull and the beak are completely disjointed, and there's a soft corrugated cartilage in the middle that absorbs all the impact and stops it from getting a headache." In order to mimic the woodpecker's crumple zone, Anirudha turned to a cheap and easily accessible source — paper. He engineered it into a double-layer of honeycomb that could then be cut and constructed into a functioning helmet. "What you end up with is with tiny little airbags throughout the helmet," he says.'"
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Building a Better Bike Helmet Out of Paper

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  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @09:21PM (#45935197)

    Although the article didn't make it explicit, I'm assuming that the helmet gets a coat of resin or something to water-proof it. Speaking for myself, I don't need rain to get a helmet wet -- I don't have great strength, endurance, or aerobic capacity, but I sweat like a champ.

  • Re:Bike helmet? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 12, 2014 @09:31PM (#45935263)

    This. Years ago now I was riding to school and was clipped by a car - in a bike lane (we aren't allowed to ride on the footpaths over here) - and the doctor said that if I hadn't been wearing the helmet I wouldn't be here now. You might be slightly uncomfortable wearing a helmet, and some people might joke about how it looks but it really can save a life.

    Just like you teach your kids not to run with scissors, you should wear a helmet when riding a bike and you should teach your kids to do so as well.

  • by Jarik C-Bol ( 894741 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @10:06PM (#45935529)
    if you bother to read the article, you would learn it absorbs far more of energy. They state that a 15mph crash can subject the brain to 220G of force wearing a polystyrene helmet. Using the paper helmet, the test units brain-analogue was subjected to a mere 70G of force. This was tested in Europe, where regulations state for a helmet to be approved, the brain may not be subjected to more than 300G of force at 15mph. So a significant improvement over traditional polystyrene helmets, in terms of energy absorption and dissipation. I posit that this is most likely due to the fact that paper does not recoil back to its original form as much as the polystyrene.
  • Re:Bike helmet? (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @10:44PM (#45935799) Journal

    Helmets will help prevent cuts and mild concussions, but not serious head injuries with permanent damage, which they might even exacerbate.

    The level of protection depends on the helmet.

    Full face motorcycle helmets really work. Bicycle helmets range from subpar to a joke. Equestrian helmets are a ridiculous farce (worse or similar protection to bicycle helmets but you're higher up on an easily spooked animal).

    Nobody wants to cycle/ride with full face helmets, but I believe there's still room somewhere in between for better helmets.

  • by citizenr ( 871508 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @10:51PM (#45935839) Homepage

    Helmets are the _source_ of NFL concussion problem, not the solution. []

  • Re:Bike helmet? (Score:5, Informative)

    by impossiblefork ( 978205 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @11:01PM (#45935895)
    There are actually helmets designed to reduce the rotational forces though. For example, I remember my own university trumpeting one helmet design in which a kind of inner helmet was allowed to slide inside an outer helmet on a low-friction liner. Simulations demonstrated a reduction maximum strain forces on the brain. There's a presentation on it here by the company which now manufactures them: [] and since it's a simple design I suspect that it will be a component of the helmet of the future.

    However, honeycombs make excellent single-use shock absorbers, so those surely have a place in helmets as well.

    Even if the site you link to were reasonable there is every reason to believe that helmets can be made truly excellent and made to give incredible protection both against shocks and rotational forces.
  • Re:Bike helmet? (Score:5, Informative)

    by gnoshi ( 314933 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @11:17PM (#45935991)

    Responding to oneself is generally bad form, but: []

    In summary (and partially concordant with the person I initially criticised): On a community-wide level, requiring people wear helmets may not reduce head injuries, but on an individual level if you are cycling and can add a helmet to your cycling without changing your behaviour, you are probably safer with the helmet.

    (This requires a bit of reading into the paper, and a couple of assumptions: Assumptions are: drivers don't suddenly start being dickheads around you because you're wearing a helmet, and you don't start being a dickhead because you put on a helmet. If those two hold, then the case-control rather than community-wide studies are more applicable to the individual choosing whether or not to wear a helmet).

  • Re:Bike helmet? (Score:4, Informative)

    by telchine ( 719345 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @11:37PM (#45936123)

    Because it's the law in civilised nations such as Australia and New Zealand.

    In the United Kingdom. HEAT suggests that a law making helmets compulsory for cyclists may result in an overall increase in 253 premature deaths – 265 extra deaths from reduced cycling less 12 deaths saved among the reduced pool of cyclists receiving fatal head injuries. []

    I for one am glad that I live in a rational nation, rather than one of the civilised ones which you mention!

  • Re:Bike helmet? (Score:4, Informative)

    by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @05:50AM (#45937589)

    My favourite of these arguments is the argument against speed-limiters on car:

    "I may at some point need to go really fast to avoid an accident".

    Often used by people who don't like the idea of limiting a car to 150 km/h despite the fact that their country doesn't allow travel faster than 120 km/h anywhere. Because of this, they come up with all sorts of extremely unlikely scenarios where travelling really fast may save them. They also try very hard to ignore other solutions than driving really fast.

  • Re:Bike helmet? (Score:3, Informative)

    by tsapi ( 1364617 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @06:08AM (#45937655)
    I am working for the past ten years as a medical doctor in an Intensive Care Unit. We treat lots of trauma patients, especially due to motor vehicle accidents. I don't have any statistics in hand, but I am *absolutely* sure that there is a *vast* difference regarding the prevalence and the severity of brain injury amongst trauma patients after motorcycle accidents (patients having not used helmet have dramatically more often and more severe brain injury). According to my experience, I would never ride a motorbike.. :-) If I had to, I would definitely and absolutely use a helmet.

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