Thursday, November 25, 2010

I'm Going in Circles!

The snow, and the weather in general, was kind yesterday. All the shouting and flag waving by the weathermen had us dizzy but it all amounted to very little.
by Charlie Leck

We've got a beautiful yard this morning. The weathermen had been predicting something near a weather apocalypse for yesterday or, as one local radio personality puts it, a snownami. Nothing like that materialized. We had a gentle couple of inches of beautiful, white and bright snow and it looks remarkably beautiful this morning.

A little phenomenon occurred in the afternoon while I was shoveling and plowing. It tickled my memory.

Two grandkids were out playing in the snow while I was shoveling. One of the them challenged the other to walk in the falling snow with her eyes closed. The little one did, all the while laughing and giggling uproariously. I noticed something interesting. With her eyes closed, she walked in circles rather than straight. I would never have thought anything of it had it not reminded me of a piece I had heard only in the last day or so on Public Radio. It claimed that people, securely blindfolded can not walk straight, but only in circles.

It had been reported by Robert Krulwich in a conversation with German scientist and researcher, Jan Souman. If you blindfold human beings and set them off, walking, tell them to go straight-away, they’ll walk in circles. Try it on this Thanksgiving weekend, while you have family surrounding you. You’ll find that it’s great fun. Obviously, it will work better if you can get the walker outside, into an area where he/she has more space.

“Humans,” said Krulwich,”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.”

Research has indicated it has nothing to do with right or left handedness or with any particular part of the brain being more dominant than another. The quest goes on to find a scientific explanation for it.

It appears, the researchers say, that humans need focal points, like the sun or moon, a mountain top or some object on the horizon in order to proceed toward it. And here, all along, I thought it was just I who was so dizzy and loopy.

I just found Krulwich’s National Public Radio blog on this mystery. You may enjoy reading it and seeing his illustrations and video. There is some really intriguing material here.

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