Monday, August 31, 2009

German Reseach Confirms Lost Hikers Do Go in Circles

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based on a news article in the New York Times (free registration required)

German Research has again demonstrated that when visual cues, such as the sun or moon are lacking, people really do hike in circles.

"'People really do walk in circles,' said Jan L. Souman of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen."

Volunteers were tracked both in forest and desert situations to see if they could orient themselves. When the sun or moon was visible, hikers traveled roughly in a straight line. But Dr. Souman said that an absolute visual clue is necessary. Absolute means, outside of the perception of the other senses.

Such things as nearby visual images, a sense of turning from the inner ear, and feedback from bones and muscles combine in the brain. These are processed to create a sense of how the body is and has moved in space. But these alone are relative, and not enough.

Experienced hikers and guides were not at all surprised by the finding. No one should trust their own senses when in a situation with no outside landmarks. A compass or GPS unit is critical when no absolute point of reference is visible.

The German research also showed that people do not consistently circle in one particular direction. Earlier studies suggested such an outcome. Souman's study showed that people began to veer in one direction or the other, and then this became pronounced and defined the direction of their circle.

A licensed Maine guide, Carroll M. Ware, pointed out that this simply emphasizes the lesson that people should take to heart when lost: sit down and stay put. Additional wandering only makes the job of rescuers more difficult.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Help Shape the Kalamazoo County Trails

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a news release of Southwest Michigan Planning Commission

Where do you want to see Trails, Bike Lanes and Non-Motorized facilities in Kalamazoo County? Give your input, this event is free and open to the public. Tell your friends and anyone who has an interest in Trails, Bike Lanes and Non-Motorized facilities in Kalamazoo County!

At this meeting attendees will accomplish the following:
1.Create a vision of connected trails in southwest Michigan.
2.Discuss the prioritization of projects.
3.Test the usability of the map.

This public input meeting will contribute to the progress of the 9-County Non-Motorized Transportation Plan for Southwest Michigan. The 9-county plan will be utilized by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), local officials and advocacy groups to prioritize non-motorized investments in the region and will provide a vision for a non-motorized transportation network that will be used to secure private and governmental funding for implementation. Plan development is being funded by MDOT. The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission (SWMPC) is facilitating and writing the 9-county plan with assistance from the Southwest Michigan Alliance for Recreation Trails (SMART). The SWMPC is working with several partners to develop the plan, including Kalamazoo County Parks, Kalamazoo County Road Commission, Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study and many others.

Let’s work together to create a connected non-motorized trail system!

For more information on SMART, see Southwest Michigan Planning Commission
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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