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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Think you're going in circles? You are - German researchers say that's how people tend to walk

TUEBINGEN, Germany - Ever feel that no matter how hard you try, you're walking in circles? A preliminary study by European scientists says that you are.

According to the study carried out using global positioning software, the myth that people who try to walk a straight line and find themselves going in circles is actually true.

The study was carried out by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics and published in Thursday's edition of Current Biology.

"What we found is that people really do walk in circles," the lead researcher, Jan Souman, told The Associated Press this week.

He said that studies of nine people walking in the desert and in a forest found that all tended to go in circles and/or veer from a straight line if there was nothing to guide their way.

In the desert, Souman said two people were told to walk a straight line during the day. While neither managed to go in a complete circle, they both veered off from walking a straight line. The third walked at night, by the light of the full moon, but when it was obscured by clouds he made several turns, ending up in the direction he came.

In another test, six students were taken to a large but flat forest and told to walk a straight line. Four of them walked under a cloudy sky with the sun hidden from view by the trees and clouds. They all ended up walking in circles despite thinking they were going straight.

The other two managed to stay fairly straight but Souman said that was because the sun was out.

"The people who were walking in circles in the forest couldn't see the sun," he said.

All nine walkers were tracked with GPS and their routes - straight, circuitous or otherwise - were digitally mapped.

Like those in the desert, when the sun was out, the forest walkers were able to stay on a straighter course.

However, put on a blindfold and ear plugs and "people did all kinds of things," Souman said.

"One always went in circles. One went in a zigzag," he said. "It was really hard to find a common denominator."

Souman said similar tests are being done using virtual reality with the results, so far, showing that walkers "seemed to do the same thing in the virtual forest, too."

As for why the tests have been done, Souman explained that the results, along with future tests, will help map how the human brain sorts various sensory stimuli from sight and hearing to help guide people.

source:http://www.cbc.ca/cp/science/090820/g082002A.html

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed



Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia



A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed



Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein



The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi



The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller



Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns



Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama



Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -



Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being



The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.