This is a weird invention to make students’ hair stand on end!

Patrick Copland (1748–1822) who was Professor of Philosophy and Mathematics at Marischal College, Aberdeen, invented his ‘head of despair’ to demonstrate the phenomenon of static electricity.

The hair is woven into a tinfoil scalp, connected to the base of the head by a metal rod. When placed on an electro-statically charged table, the hair stands on end creating an expression of shock and despair.


© University of Aberdeen

Museum reference


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