New research from the Ministry of Silly Walks.

By Seriously Science | January 22, 2014 7:00 am

In lieu of an introduction to today’s featured research article, we give you one of our all-time favorite Monty Python sketches:

Sideways walking: preferred is slow, slow is optimal, and optimal is expensive.

“When humans wish to move sideways, they almost never walk sideways, except for a step or two; they usually turn and walk facing forward. Here, we show that the experimental metabolic cost of walking sideways, per unit distance, is over three times that of forward walking. We explain this high metabolic cost with a simple mathematical model; sideways walking is expensive because it involves repeated starting and stopping. When walking sideways, our subjects preferred a low natural speed, averaging 0.575 m s(-1) (0.123 s.d.). Even with no prior practice, this preferred sideways walking speed is close to the metabolically optimal speed, averaging 0.610 m s(-1) (0.064 s.d.). Subjects were within 2.4% of their optimal metabolic cost per distance. Thus, we argue that sideways walking is avoided because it is expensive and slow, and it is slow because the optimal speed is low, not because humans cannot move sideways fast.”

Related content:
Seriously, Science?: How you walk differently with friends and lovers.
NCBI ROFL: Walking with coffee: Why does it spill?
NCBI ROFL: When it comes to walking backward, practice makes perfect.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: analysis taken too far, rated G
  • Uncle Al

    Crabs, with eight walking legs, Human pelvic reconstruction would create efficient human sideways walking. It would simultaneously bolster the human anatomical clone industry (e.g., adding six legs to each person, 1.8 billion legs in the US alone), clothing, shoe, and chair industries. The net effect would be global economic resurgence far in excess of installation costs. Effects upon bicycle and urinal industries must be studied.


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Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
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