Let’s imagine that you are walking outside, when rain clouds catch you by surprise and suddenly pour down on you. Assuming that you have no umbrella or anything to cover yourself with, is it best to run back home or walk back? Or to elaborate, should you walk and spend more time in the rain, or should you run, which means you will run into rain sideways?
There are two ways you can get wet in the rain: it will either fall on top of your head, or you will run into it from the side. The amount of rain that falls on your head is constant whether you are walking or raining, as the entire field you are travelling through is full of raindrops. Therefore, one would naturally think that running would not add much benefit as you run into more rain by moving faster, as you essentially hit a wall of raindrops.
But this is not true. No matter how fast you travel, the amount of rain you hit sideways is constant. The only variable that affects the amount of rain you hit sideways is the distance you travel. This is because the amount of raindrops in the space between you and your destination is constant.
Summarising this, the wetness from rain you receive is:
(wetness falling on your head per second x time spent in rain) + (wetness you run into per meter x distance travelled).
Since you cannot really change how far you are from your destination, the best way to minimise getting wet is to run as fast as you can to minimise the time you spend in the rain.
Then again, this is only the most practical option to keep you dry. If you are feeling particularly romantic or blue, then feel free to stroll through the rain, savouring the cold drops on your face (or wallow in the sadness that is your life).
(Here’s a very good video explaining the maths/science of it all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MqYE2UuN24)
The French Revolution that occurred in the late 18th century had a significant impact on not only politics, but French society as a whole. Even after the revolution, there was much hatred against the nobility and especially the luxurious and extravagant lifestyle they lead. Men and women wearing too much clothes and jewellery were punished heavily. There was even a law stating that the weight of your clothes and accessories combined must not exceed 3.5kg. In the early 19th century, the fashion trend changed from the fancy dresses of the past with many decorations to a much more simple, clean and frugal type of dress. A point of interest is that women wearing petticoats (an undergarment worn to puff out skirts) – a key point of the Rococo style – were executed on the guillotine, causing women to quickly throw away their petticoats and try to look as slim as possible. To look thin, women did not even wear underwear. There was a fabric that suited this new fashion trend very well and that was the extremely thin cloth, muslin.
But to follow the fashion of then, it is not enough to simply wear a muslin dress. In early 19th century France, the trend was to douse your dress in water. Why did the women drench themselves in water? The reason being, muslin is a very thin and light cloth that becomes half transparent when wet, while clinging to your body. Women dampened their muslin dress to prove that they were wearing nothing underneath. Also, the ideal, beautiful woman of the time was an intellectual woman who looked fatigued from reading books all night long. Drenching yourself in water adds to this gaunt image, accentuating your fatigue and by extension, your beauty. The woman probably also intended to make the clothing cling to their body to show off their figure (much like the modern day wet t-shirt contests).
The problem was that muslin is an extremely thin material that is unsuitable in the winter or in Northern regions. Considering that women were wearing such a thin dress and even pouring water on themselves, one can imagine how cold they must have been. In fact, France suffered a heavy epidemic of pneumonia in the early 19th century with as much as 60,000 patients turning up with pneumonia every day. A high proportion of these patients were women who liked to wear wet muslin dresses. Thus, the pneumonia was nicknamed muslin disease.