Navigation Links
In the race to the top, zigzagging is more efficient than a straight line
Date:2/20/2008

A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it isnt necessarily the fastest or easiest path to follow.

Thats particularly true when terrain is not level, and now American and British researchers have developed a mathematical model showing that a zigzag course provides the most efficient way for humans to go up or down steep slopes.

I think zigzagging is something people do intuitively, said Marcos Llobera, a University of Washington assistant professor of anthropology who is a landscape archaeologist. People recognize that zigzagging, or switchbacks, help but they dont realize why they came about.

Llobera, who is interested in reconstructing patterns of movement within past landscapes, said the model and a study that describes it stem from earlier research that looked at the emergence of trail systems. That research focused on flat terrain.

You would expect a similar process on any landscape, but when you have changes in elevation it makes things more complicated, he said. There is a point, or critical slope, where it becomes metabolically too costly to go straight ahead, so people move at an angle, cutting into the slope. Eventually they need to go back toward the direction they were originally headed and this creates zigzags. The steeper the slope, the more important it is that you tackle it at the right angle.

Trails evolve, among other reasons, because of physical differences in people and the differences in the biomechanics and energy cost of ascending and descending a slope.

You get a different pattern if people are going up or down and this may lead to the emergence of shortcuts. Walking downhill generally takes less energy except for braking. We would expect to see different paths going up and down, but what we end up with is a compromise and shortcuts arent as apparent.

Llobera said many other physical factors can influence the creation and development of a trail or path, and that the new model is a simplified one and a place to start. Eventually he hopes to build a simulation engine that would allow archaeologists to plug in a terrain and explore different patterns of movement through it. He is particularly interested in using it with landscapes that have resulted from the accumulations of various societies and cultures.


'/>"/>

Contact: Joel Schwarz
joels@u.washington.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Colorado Engineering Firms Win NASA Grant to Develop Innovative Insulation for Next Generation Spacecraft - Super-Insulation May Allow Future Energy Efficient Appliances
2. Satellites help ensure efficient use of pesticides
3. 454 Sequencing: Science paper describes a novel, highly efficient method of sequencing ancient DNA
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
In the race to the top, zigzagging is more efficient than a straight line
(Date:4/4/2017)... YORK , April 4, 2017   EyeLock ... today announced that the United States Patent and Trademark ... patent broadly covers the linking of an iris image ... same transaction) and represents the company,s 45 th ... latest patent is very timely given the multi-modal biometric ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... ANGELES , March 30, 2017  On April ... Hack the Genome hackathon at Microsoft,s ... exciting two-day competition will focus on developing health and ... Hack the Genome is the ... been tremendous. The world,s largest companies in the genomics, ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... Trends, opportunities and forecast in this market ... (fingerprint, AFIS, iris recognition, facial recognition, hand geometry, vein ... use industry (government and law enforcement, commercial and retail, ... others), and by region ( North America ... Pacific , and the Rest of the World) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... AMRI, a ... biotechnology industries to improve patient outcomes and quality of life, will now be ... are being attributed to new regulatory requirements for all new drug products, including ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... Palo Alto, CA, USA (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... is set to take place on 7th and 8th June 2018 in San Francisco, ... and policy influencers as well as several distinguished CEOs, board directors and government officials ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... and pregnancy rates in frozen and fresh in vitro fertilization (IVF) ... maternal age to IVF success. , After comparing the results from the fresh ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... Dr. Bob Harman, founder and ... San Diego Rotary Club. The event entitled “Stem Cells and Their ... 300+ attendees. Dr. Harman, DVM, MPVM was joined by two human doctors: Peter ...
Breaking Biology Technology: