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1 518 minutes ago
Scientists have shown that without help from the sun or stars people are unable to walk in a straight line.
Researchers in Germany left six volunteers in a forest and asked them to keep going in the same direction. On cloudy days - with no sun to guide them - the volunteers ended up walking in circles and crossing their paths without realising it.
In a second experiment, volunteers were left in the Sahara for several hours with water and food.
Again, they were able to keep to a straight path only when the sun was visible. As soon as it went behind clouds they wandered aimlessly in loops.
Dr Jan Souman, who led the study, said: 'Those stories about people who end up walking around in circles when lost are true. 'People cannot walk in a straight line if they do not have absolute references, such as a tower or a mountain in the distance or the sun or moon, and often end up walking in circles.' In one part of the study, published in the journal Current Biology, two volunteers were left in the Sahara in southern Tunisia in daylight and told to walk straight. Although neither managed a complete circle, both veered off a straight line.