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Why Can't We Walk Straight?

Humans can't walk in straight lines. 

If there's no fixed point of reference, we just walk in circles and inevitably get lost. Nobody knows why, but researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics have confirmed it in several experiments.

So why, when blindfolded, can't we walk straight? There is still no good answer. Jan Souman, a research scientist in Germany, co-wrote a paper last year about this human tendency to walk in circles.

Souman also ran the experiment in Bienwald forest in Germany, apparently without blindfolds. As the subjects walked, Jan mapped where they went. Here's a sample of his results.

Those two red dots mark the start of several walks. He ran these experiments over a series of days.
The Weather Matters

When the sky was cloudy and visibility low (blue lines), the walkers (labeled KS, PS and RF) were unable to stay straight and began to turn.

When it was sunny (yellow lines), the walker (labeled SM) was able to keep a steady and rather lengthy straight line.

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.


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