The getting lost and walking in circles

This is a discussion on The getting lost and walking in circles within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; Ok, this is probably silly, but I'm curious... As you have seen countless times from real life reports or in ...

  1. #1
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Portugal
    Posts
    7,510

    The getting lost and walking in circles

    Ok, this is probably silly, but I'm curious...

    As you have seen countless times from real life reports or in fiction, one weird consequence of getting lost in an environment where it is not possible to take reference points is that people tend to go around in circles, eventually even returning to the point where they left.

    I have no idea why this happen... or if it actually happens that much. One explanation I heard simply didn't convince me at all; that we have an hard time walking in a straight line, invariably describing a circle. This doesn't explain the same situation happening on rough terrain like jungle, for instance. Also, some people report having walked for hours only to return to the same place. This would mean a big radius and I find it hard to believe we could unknowingly plot such wide and perfect circle while walking.

    What do you know about this?
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Posts
    2,129
    Poor navigation. I don't do it. Even if you were lost, you would still know where you are in reference to where you were when you got lost.

    Then again, I don't go wandering around lost for hours. How do people manage to do that anyway?

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    UK/Norway
    Posts
    485
    I have heard that normally one leg is shorter then the other. So when we walk we always move a little to one side.

  4. #4
    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Out of scope
    Posts
    4,074
    To clarify on h3ro's explanation.

    All humans, like with their hands, have a dominant leg that takes longer and stronger strides than the other leg. With no reference point to walk towards our bodies will naturally turn in a circle. Granted, it would be a pretty large circle and it may take several hours or even days to get back to where you started, however, as your weaker leg tires quicker than your dominant leg, the circular motion increases. Generally this is a good explanation of why you can't walk a long distance in one directions and not be several miles off after some time.

    As far as walking in circle's... I think it's just the way out internal compass works. We are very unsure of ourselves and impulsively change directions without really thinking about it... we also tend to go towards things we know (like a tree we've seen) even though we may not realize. It's a security thing... I dunno, I would go with something like that.
    Last edited by SlyMaelstrom; 05-06-2008 at 07:36 PM.
    Sent from my iPad®

  5. #5
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Portugal
    Posts
    7,510
    Hmm... putting it that way makes sense, yes.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  6. #6
    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Out of scope
    Posts
    4,074
    Honestly, though... that second part was pure speculation and I'd like to know if you find a more scientific answer to this.
    Sent from my iPad®

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Posts
    2,129
    That's like saying toilets go in one direction because of the coriolis effect.

  8. #8
    Captain Crash brewbuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    7,249
    I walk around on mountains a lot. There are a few things I've noticed.

    When you feel like you are traversing a slope on an even course, you are probably actually going down slightly. If you are in a bowl-like feature of the terrain, this causes you to spiral inward and downward, possibly missing a landmark.

    You have to deviate around barriers which are sometimes very large, and without prior planning (by sighting landmarks or taking compass bearings) it is easy to forget to correct for the deviation on the other side of the barrier. Since people typically go around obstacles on the downhill side, the error tends to accumulate on the downhill side of the slope.

    Also, there is plain old confusion, where landmarks are mistaken for each other leading you to deliberately backtrack (although you don't know you're doing it).

    There are a few tricks if caught out without proper navigation aids (map, compass, altimeter, GPS, etc.)

    First, look at the sun, stupid! (Edit: This isn't always possible, obviously) It always stays in one half of the sky (depending on your hemisphere). Over short periods of time it stays in approximately the same position -- if you find the sun on your left, and then on your right 15 minutes later, you've turned around.

    Second, set an initial bearing, then look in the opposite direction. Sight a landmark along this line, call it A. Now look forward, sight another landmark, some distance away but in clear view, and call it B. Now walk to B. Turn around, and re-sight A. This gets you realigned on your original heading. Now turn 180 degrees, and repeat the process with a new landmark C. Continue this as long as you want to walk in a straight line.

  9. #9
    Confused Magos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    3,145
    Slightly offtopic, but related. I recently watched LotR-TT again, and Frodo/Sam said they were lost finding their way to Mordor when they clearly see mount Doom in the distance, which is their target. And still they walk in circles. No, I have no point with this post .
    MagosX.com

    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
    Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Scranton, Pa
    Posts
    252
    I got lost only once in my life, on an unfamiliar mountaintop while hunting. Found a comfortable dead log, leaned back and fell asleep. When I awoke, I was disoriented and couldn't ascertain from which direction I came (it was just about dark by now).

    To cut it short, I picked a direction and started walking. I'm fairly certain that I was walking in a straight line since I eventually descended onto a roadway (about 2 hrs later), albeit I did a 180 and headed down the wrong side of the mountain.

  11. #11
    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    1,665
    I've never done that before, and I don't think very many people do. It's the movies; what would a movie be with reality in it? It you have a set destination, you can get there, even if you have to manouver past things. Even if you arn't right on target, that last thing you'll do is walk [u]against[u] your desired course. Unless of course, you're messed up or a little coo-coo, but again, that's the movies for you.
    A class that doesn't overload all operators just isn't finished yet. -- SmugCeePlusPlusWeenie
    A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God. -- Alan J. Perlis

  12. #12
    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    1,665
    And the thing about the dominate leg, I'm pretty sure we subconsciously compensate for that.
    A class that doesn't overload all operators just isn't finished yet. -- SmugCeePlusPlusWeenie
    A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God. -- Alan J. Perlis

  13. #13
    Kernel hacker
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Farncombe, Surrey, England
    Posts
    15,677
    I think it's likely that you'd (more often) walk in circles if the landscape is relatively feature-less, such as flat snowy landscape, or a forest full of similar looking trees (plantation).

    --
    Mats
    Compilers can produce warnings - make the compiler programmers happy: Use them!
    Please don't PM me for help - and no, I don't do help over instant messengers.

  14. #14
    Ethernal Noob
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Posts
    1,901
    I always wondered why one pant leg went further down than the other.

  15. #15
    Dr Dipshi++ mike_g's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    On me hyperplane
    Posts
    1,218
    If one leg was 9" shorter than the other how big would the circle that you walk in be?

    They should put that in maths exams

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Popular pages Recent additions subscribe to a feed

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21