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Old 11-29-2010, 05:48 PM   #1
Holdstrong
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Walking in a straight line

I find this absolutely fascinating and had to share.

Why can't we walk straight?

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Humans, apparently, slip into circles when we can't see an external focal point, like a mountain top, a sun, a moon. Without a corrective, our insides take over and there’s something inside us that won't stay straight.
The animated video is very well done too.

I suddenly have the urge to walk across Marcy field blind folded...
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Old 11-29-2010, 09:30 PM   #2
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I think it's because one of our legs is stronger, the lefty - righty thing with our arms works on our legs also.

If we are walking straight with a goal our brains will compenstate to keep us straight

But without a "goal", one leg will push us just a bit further than the other that eventually we will slowly end up going in circles.

Lefties end up doing a clockwise circle, while righties will go counter clockwise
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Old 11-29-2010, 10:52 PM   #3
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While initially watching the video, I was thinking the same. Something similar might even explain the swimming. However, that it happens to someone driving a car seemed to throw a wrench into that.

Here is a quote about this from the article...

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I suggest, this is a form of left or right handedness where one side dominates the other? Or maybe this is a reflection of our left and right brains spitting out different levels of dopamine? Or maybe it's stupidly simple: Most of us have slightly different sized legs or slightly stronger appendages on one side and this little difference, over enough steps, mounts up?

Wrong, wrong and wrong, Jan says. He's tested all three propositions (the radio story describes the details) and didn't get the predicted results. There is, apparently, no single explanation for this phenomenon. He is working on a multi-causal theory.
Fascinating stuff.

If interested, the audio for the radio piece can be found here: NPR Audio
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Old 11-29-2010, 11:19 PM   #4
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I think it has to do with the balance in our middle ear. It's never perfect so we favor one side or another.

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Old 11-30-2010, 08:49 AM   #5
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I found it interesting that the circles got tighter and tighter in some cases. If it was a simple case of physiological asymmetry then it seems to me the circles would remain the same radius.
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Old 11-30-2010, 11:22 AM   #6
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Have you ever tried to walk in a perfectly straight line across a frozen lake through several inches of snow with snowshoes on, while fixating on one point across the lake and trying to walk straight to it, then once you get there turn around and look back at your tracks?

....
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Old 11-30-2010, 11:37 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by randomscooter View Post
I found it interesting that the circles got tighter and tighter in some cases. If it was a simple case of physiological asymmetry then it seems to me the circles would remain the same radius.
No, because you would keep bearing to the same side so the circles would get tighter with each "lap"
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin View Post
Have you ever tried to walk in a perfectly straight line across a frozen lake through several inches of snow with snowshoes on, while fixating on one point across the lake and trying to walk straight to it, then once you get there turn around and look back at your tracks

....
Is that before or after smoking that joint?
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Holdstrong View Post
I find this absolutely fascinating and had to share.

Why can't we walk straight?



The animated video is very well done too.

I suddenly have the urge to walk across Marcy field blind folded...
Fascinating indeed! Now I won't feel so bad the next time I get a little turned around when I could swear I was walking in a straight line.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:22 PM   #10
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This is why the "intentional offset" when bushwhacking/navigating by compass is a good technique to learn and use. Basically, if the point you are trying to reach is along a linear feature such as a river or a ridge line, you intentionally aim for a point along that feature either to the right or to the left of that point. When you get to that river or ridge, you can then be reasonably sure which direction you need to turn and follow it to get to your intended destination, even if you weren't able to follow a straight line the whole way to the linear feature.
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