NPR has a fascinating segment about how humans can’t walk in a straight line unless we have an external guide. We just end up walking in circles.
It turns out, no one is really sure why this happens but experiments on walkers, drivers and swimmers have all found the tendency to circle back on ourselves despite us thinking that we’re maintaining a steady course ahead.
The NPR piece is both a short radio discussion and an animation so make you catch both as it’s a minor but utterly fascinating mystery.
In our radio broadcast, Jan and I explore possible explanations for this tendency to slip into turns. Maybe, 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.