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Scientists calculate how high heels can go

As Sex and the City's Carrie finally wanders off the UK's television screens, physicists at the Institute of Physics (London, UK) have devised a formula that high-heel fans can use to work out just how high they can go. Based on your shoe size, the formula tells you the maximum height of heel you can wear without toppling over or suffering agonies.

h = Q•(12+3s /8)

h is the maximum height of the heel (in cm)
Q is a sociological factor and has a value between 0 and 1 (see below to work this out)
S is the shoe size (UK ladies sizes). This factor makes sure that the base of support is just good enough for an experienced and sober, high-heel wearer not to fall over.

"Although at first glance our formula looks scary" said Dr Paul Stevenson of the University of Surrey who carried out the research for the Institute, "It's actually pretty simple as it's based on the science you learnt at school and which you never thought you would use in real life, in this case Pythagoras' theorem 1 Applying this to shoes can tell us just how high the heel of the foot can be lifted above the ground."

Dr Stevenson went on to describe how 'Q' the essential sociological factor had been worked out.

"Essentially this part of the formula explains what women have always known that you don't buy shoes just because they are comfortable, you can afford them and they look good many other variables come into play"

'Q' is defined as follows:

p•(y+9)•L
Q = ----------------------------------
(t+1)•(A+1)•(y+10)•(L+20)

The variables are:

p the probability that wearing the shoes will help you 'pull' (in a range from 0 to 1, where 1 is pwhooar and 0 is stick to carpet slippers). If the shoes are a turn-off, there's no point wearing them.

y the number of years experience you have in wearing high heels. As you become mor

Contact: Dianne Stilwell
dianne.stilwell@iop.org
44-795-720-0214
Institute of Physics
19-Mar-2004

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