# Thread: The getting lost and walking in circles

1. 1. It depends on the size of your stride.
2. It depends on the length of your other leg
3. More?..

2. Originally Posted by Yarin
And the thing about the dominate leg, I'm pretty sure we subconsciously compensate for that.
...but that's the point, our mind has no means of compensating for it if we have no target or focus point. You're trying to say that these are all movie concepts to add tention to a plot, but it's simple not. There are tons of real-life cases of people just walking around in circles because they get lost and even more so of people just finding themselves way off track because they have no way of knowing their exact direction... these things happen in situations where there is no visibility or the environment changes. To use a movie as an example in the remake of "Flight of the Phoenix," they explain to a guy who decides he will hike to the nearest city that he can not based on the dominant leg logic. Not being able to use a compass, he concluded that he would just walk towards the peaks of sand dunes in the distance. They responded explaining that the sand dunes shift and would not lead him in a straight path. This was not just a movie trick... it's absolutely true. This scenerio goes the same for situations where you can't see very far, such as thick woods or thick fog, and cannot get any fixed point to focus on.

Generally people get more lost trying to go back where they came from because they don't realize how much they've turned in their initial trip. People will walk a few miles into the woods and say "Let's go back," do an immediate 180&#176; turn and figure if they walk straight, they'll be right back where they started. Of course, they don't realize how not straight their hike to that point in the woods were so even if they were to walk back in a straigh path, they would be way off course.

3. Originally Posted by Yarin
1. It depends on the size of your stride.
2. It depends on the length of your other leg
3. More?..
Also you'll just be walking in a closed polygon. The shorter your stride gets, the closer to a smooth circle it becomes.

4. I think the term "circle", in this case, should be interpreted euphemistically rather than geometrically. You could make a triangle or some odd shape and end up at the starting point, but still say that you're "going around in circles".

5. Yup, the leg thing makes sense. But I guess only when coupled with that subconscious effect Sly mentioned before in which we may tend to inadvertently walk in the direction of a recognized landmark, even if we don't notice that happening.

All things being equal any constant deviation from a straight path will draw a circle no matter how wide. But the problem I was facing with that explanation was it didn't explain some reported cases in which people described a circle in very rough terrain; jungle and mountainous terrains, for instance. However, having our brain working against us fills this gap.

Brewbuck also mentioned the interesting fact the terrain features (especially elevation, if I understood this right) may work against us. I certainly can picture the illusion of a bowl shaped terrain can provoke on someone not ready.

As for Frodo and Sam, the book is much more detailed, Magos. The Emyn Muil is a maze of chasms and unclimbable rock faces. The problem was not so much seeing where they were going, the problem was getting out of the maze, of which shire folk had absolutely no experience with.

6. I always like to think of the human brain as a really, really powerful CPU that doesn't have it's heatsink applied correctly. Add a little excess heat, moisture, shake it up a bit and it loses it's orientation and starts doing crazy stuff. Having no grasp of where you are is like being drunk... it affects your balance, it affects your sense of depth and direction... you may think you're walking normal but from an outside perspective you could be stumbling around aimlessly no really getting anywhere. The human brain is a very powerful thing, but when it's taken out of it's element, it gets easily confused.

7. Confusion is certainly a factor. People have walked the planet for a long, long time without any form of navigation tool, and done just fine.

One wonders how the human race ever got out of Africa if people actually couldn't walk in a straight line for long distances.

All the arguments about terrain, leg length, etc. are not really that important. I think the biggest factor is the alienation of modern civilization from the earth. We walk in circles because we've forgotten (or were never taught) how to exist in the natural world.

8. Originally Posted by brewbuck
All the arguments about terrain, leg length, etc. are not really that important. I think the biggest factor is the alienation of modern civilization from the earth. We walk in circles because we've forgotten (or were never taught) how to exist in the natural world.
A thought that pops in my mind from time to time. I couldn't agree more with it.

9. Originally Posted by brewbuck
Confusion is certainly a factor. People have walked the planet for a long, long time without any form of navigation tool, and done just fine.

One wonders how the human race ever got out of Africa if people actually couldn't walk in a straight line for long distances.
Not exactly relevant to what I was talking about... I believe we're talking here about people walking in circles when they are lost and there for have no reference point of where they are going. History tends to show that our distant ancestors migrated by either following prey (there by having tracks as a reference point) or being chased away by a predetor (there by knowing the direction they shouldn't be going). Early exploration resulted in many, many people getting lost and even the greatest navigators and explorers of the past, who utilized sun and star positions (redundant, I know) for direction, found themselves getting lost.

Of course, there are some good classical examples of people traveling great distances from one relatively small point to another with accuracy. The run from Athens to Marathon comes to mind... however, I couldn't quite say what kind of landmarks were placed between these two cities for the messenger to utilize for direction.

All of this aside, I would say that you make a great point with how our natural instincts have changed vs our ancestors... perhaps in some time, science will decide they have changed so much that they will consider us evolved into a new species as they had when homo-sapians became homo-sapian-sapians.

10. I wonder why cars never have this problem.

11. Originally Posted by indigo0086
I wonder why cars never have this problem.
My car does... let go of the steering wheel and I'm into the wall in seconds. I think I need a realignment! >_<

12. You have an emo car.