Research Bureau

From today’s Irish Times.

GERMAN RESEARCHERS have discovered a scientific basis for one of the hoariest of horror film cliches.

It’s a familiar scene. A group of teenagers get lost and wander aimlessly through the forest until, just before the knife-wielding maniac appears, one teenager asks: “Haven’t we been this way before?”

Now researchers at Germany’s prestigious Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics have discovered that, when they lack clear landmarks, humans do indeed walk in circles.

The German team examined the paths taken by volunteers wearing GPS tracking devices in a dense forest near the French border and in the Sahara desert.

On days with clear conditions, volunteers kept a straight path – though they often veered from straight ahead – while in cloudy conditions, they began wandering in circles without realising.

Pshaw! Research my eye. This is Old Hat, as anyone who has read A.A. Milne knows. They will recall the story (‘Tigger is unbounced’) in which Rabbit, who is not exactly enamoured of Tigger at first, conceives a plan to take the newcomer for a walk in the fog and then lose him. They do indeed lose him, but then discover that they are walking round in circles under Rabbit’s confident leadership.

Fancy all those Herr Doktors at the Max Planck Institute not knowing that there was Prior Research in this subject. Huh!