Friday 24 August 2012

The dominant left

Another fascinating article - this time on our tendency to crash to the left.

“…This left twist effect seems to be generally apparent in animals. Circus horses enter traditionally the arena on the right and circle left wards. Foresters know that a wounded deer will always run away left wards, even if the closest forest is to its right. Even bees tend to circle leftwards when they spiral upwards to gain height in the air.

The basic driver behind this phenomenon seems to be the fact that all cells in nature are composed of amino acids which have a left spin. Chemists can manufacture amino acids with a right spin, yet we can’t use them. Apparently both types of amino acids existed in the primordial soup at the beginning of life hundreds of million years ago. Yet life developed only from those with a left spin. The favorite theory is that at that time – when the earth did not yet have the protective ozone shield – radioactive rays from the cosmos did more harm to the amino acids with a right spin. Yet why those with a left spin would be more protected – if at all – is still a mystery.”

People who are lost in the desert tend to walk in circles with a left spin, i.e. counter-clockwise.

Most or our supermarkets are organized the same way: entrance is on the right, the cashier on the left. Studies have shown that customers tend to feel slightly stressed – increased cardiac pulse, elevated blood pressure, slightly faster walking pace – and buy less when they have to walk in the opposite direction.

Same on the sports field: most track and field sports – from the 400 meter distance runner to the hurdle racer, they all run towards their left. Even the everyday jogger tends to run counter clockwise around the field or lake if he has free choice…”

Except from when I've been hit by cars, all my crashes have been to the right - so I am the odd man out here. I have noticed though that when I stop, I unclip my right foot. Most cyclists unclip their left foot.

I liked the bit about running around a track - I haven't run around a track in decades, but last time I did, I always ran counter clockwise. Weird!


Skeeter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skeeter said...

So, do horses run faster when they race anti-clockwise (Vic, Tas, SA, WA) than when they race clockwise (NSW and Qld)?