1964: "Spatial Orientation"

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Mar 09, 2018 7:25 am UTC

There's a highway that runs through my hometown from the ocean to the mountains, and also over the mountains. I once long got lost on a foggy moonless night on the other side of the mountains on that highway, and figured one of two things would soon happen if I continued driving along it: I would either reach the mountains and know I was on the right track and keep going that way until I got home, or else I would intersect the much larger highway that's not too far in the opposite direction running perpendicular to the inland direction I knew that highway to run, and know I was going the wrong way.

What I did not expect was that somehow amidst the various winds of the highway, it would end up running parallel to the coast/mountains/larger highway, and I might end up driving on it for way longer than I had anticipated wondering when the hell it was going to intersect some identifiable landmark or another, until I eventually crossed another highway that also ran inland from the coast along the far edge of the neighboring county, and realized I had to turn back.
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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby herbstschweigen » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:20 am UTC

exoren22 wrote:Well, I am convinced I screw up left and right because I am a lefty and the world is broken.

No, I'm not a lefty and also keep screwing them up. Funny sidenote: I have a half-sister (we did not grow up together and don't meet often) and once she visited and we talked about something on aphoto, and suddenly my wife started laughing. Wife then explained that one of us got left and right wrong and the other didn't even notice. My sister then explained that as she is a dentist, she is used to switching left and right in order to talk "from the patient's point of view".

exoren22 wrote:
herbstschweigen wrote:Yes, here. Mensa member and often confusing left and right. Or at least I really have to think hard. Cardinal directions make much more sense. If something is north of you it is always north of you, but what's left and right depends on where you're facing.


But is this really true? If you move 20 miles north then a thing that was 10 miles north is now 10 miles south.

I just meant turning in place, not moving around...

exoren22 wrote:And do most of you live in a place where the roads allow you to keep these things straight? I drive a stretch where a road changes from 440 South to 287 North, all while traveling more-or-less east-to-west.


Seems so. The road where I live is roughly N-S. Our living room faces roughly west, our kitchen east. Commute to work is along a river that runs generally E-W. And here in Germany roads are (unfortunately) not marked with cardinal directions. When you drive onto A3 you have to know if you want to go in the direction of Würzburg or Köln. A5, to Darmstadt or Gießen? Ah, even though odd-numbered roads usually run N-S in Germany (a fact many Germans don't know, I think), I live not far from the Frankfurter Kreuz, where A3 and A5 intersect each other. Normally it shouldn't happen that two odd-numbered freeways cross.

exoren22 wrote:And why doesn't everybody just give coordinates and let Google figure it out? Who leaves the house without a phone these days?

Yes of course I also use sat-nav when going to an unknown destination, or on a longer trip where I want to get traffic info. But I still like to check a map before to see in what general direction the main roads I will be using are going. Just as a plausibility check, and to be able to decide whether to follow the sat-nav orders or not.
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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby herbstschweigen » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:22 am UTC

orthogon wrote:
herbstschweigen wrote:I remember visiting southeast US and I was so delighted that highway signs said "north", "south" etc. That is much more helpful when driving around a country than the name of some city you only roughly know where it is, or maybe even don't know at all.


OK, I've complained about this before, but imagine you're on the London Underground (map), at Notting Hill Gate, and you want to take the yellow (Circle) line to Victoria. What direction will denote the correct platform on the signs?

Spoiler:
That's right, it's Westbound.


I absolutely agree that for a circular train line or road clockwise/counterclockwise make much more sense than cardinal directions.
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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby herbstschweigen » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:28 am UTC

Mikeski wrote:Can you tell left/right people from n/s/e/w people by the way they set up their map on their phone? (or in their car, on their garmin/tomtom GPS device, etc.?)

left/right people set it so the map rotates, so the top is the way they're facing.

n/s/e/w people set it so the map doesn't rotate, and the top is always "north".

Or are there left/right people who like non-rotating maps? (I'm a n/s/e/w non-rotator, myself.)


For my car sat-nav I prefer the rotating map. After all that thing is supposed to give me the "cockpit view" of where I'm going at the next intersection. It is a different use case than a map that gives an aerial view.

But I don't listen much to what the device says (left/right are just hollow words...), I look at the arrows on the display to know which way to go. (I suspect that since I own such a talking navigator my confusion over left-right has been getting less. Maybe I'm learning it.)
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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby Eutychus » Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:46 pm UTC

As a Northern Hemisphere dweller, I recall feeling the disorientation suggested in the OP on a beach in Australia.

Starting to think about the time difference and being on the other side of the world, there was a brief moment when my current location felt upside down, not to mention spinning madly. I quickly changed my train of thought.

Meanwhile, here's a mind-blowing video from VSauce (again!) showing the ride of your life (from How Earth Moves).
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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby Wee Red Bird » Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:20 pm UTC

When looking at a map planning a journey, I keep the rotation fixed.
When travelling (driving or walking) I have it on rotate.
My first time using a satnav was travelling abroad. UK you drive on the left and the steering wheel is on the right. I was in Holland. They drive on the right, the steering wheel is on the left (so you have to align the car differently in the lane) and all their signs are difficult to pronounce for a visitor. Last thing I need to fight with is which way north was.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:57 pm UTC

herbstschweigen wrote:But I don't listen much to what the {vehiclle GPS} says (left/right are just hollow words...), I look at the arrows on the display to know which way to go.

Reminds me of the time that we (me as passenger, driver as servant to the Voice) were directed to take "the second exit" on a roundabout, and ended up on an extra-long detour1 the device had not really intended.

The first proper exit, left (10 o'clockish on the clockwise roundabout, here in a left-side driving country) had a dedicated slip-lane separate from the island rotary, and we surmise "2nd exit" meant the first exit past the slip-by, to the same destination road. For whatever reason, there was on off-by-one error (could be just a failure to properly link up the off-slip with the on-slip in the connective map data, I speculate), and the exit we took (1 o'clockish) would have been described as "3rd exit". To us, that would have looked like the full 6 o'clock U-turn, there being no other exits more 'rightward'.

The display displayed correctly, as was obvious from the 'over the shoulder of the blip icon' parts of the display during the immediate post-mortem during the initial spate of "make a U-turn where possible"(!) beration, but the driver was driving with eyes for the road and I had successfully torn my eyes away from it so it was not caught.

(And this was not in the early days of electonic mapping, like the time I couldn't find a route between northern England and southern Scotland on a then-popular online map. This was last November, with no obvious changes to road layout. In fact, embaressingly, it was a route-segment that I had taken several times before (to a different destination) and though we all knew that this new destination would eventually diverge from that taken several times on prior occasions, we were still quite far from that point had we been thinking rather than devolving our quite sufficient combined navigational experience to the little glowing and talking box.)


If there had been an "N o'clock" voicing option, it would have helped us more. Also on other junctions where "3rd exit" meant to pass the minor ~8 o'clock and the major ~10 o'clock, and take the ~2 o'clock position, not the 3-ish o'clock one, on a particularly vector-rich node.

1 To carry on, without a turn on the dual-carriageway, until a later junction let us take a third side of a triangle back to the other end of where the proper turn would have led to on the first, untaken side.


Wee Red Bird wrote:My first time using a satnav was travelling abroad. UK you drive on the left and the steering wheel is on the right. I was in Holland. They drive on the right, the steering wheel is on the left (so you have to align the car differently in the lane) and all their signs are difficult to pronounce for a visitor. Last thing I need to fight with is which way north was.

In Holland (and much of the Netherlands, at least for this first bit) North is towards the North Sea. That which is not to the west. Or (despite all efforts by the locals) all around you, though much of that is the Muddy Sea and the Southern Sea is to your east, and now merely a Meer.

Or something like that! I've not the expertise of the locals, one or two of which might be :roll: right now, my having only been there twice in person. :P

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby qvxb » Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:31 pm UTC

Imagine this comic as a Seinfeld episode.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby DanD » Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:02 pm UTC

herbstschweigen wrote:
Heimhenge wrote:
sotanaht wrote: Considering that roads around here usually don't go in the direction they say they do (ie "west" on a certain highway might in fact be more north or south), and that I don't have a compass unless I wanted to rely on my cell phone (in which case I would be using GPS anyway), compass directions are pretty much useless as long as roads are involved.


Why do you need a compass? Sun's position and time of day is enough to give you a rough idea where the main directions are.



Try coming out of a metro station in an unfamiliar city with either tall buildings or an overcast sky. I've had this experience multiple times where I have no clue which way is north, and no ready way to determine it. (And while moss preferrentially grows on the north side of buildings in the northern hemisphere, it grows on the shaded south sides as well. Also, if you're in a section of an unfamiliar city where there is moss growing on the buildings, it's generally time to leave).
Last edited by DanD on Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:11 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby DanD » Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:07 pm UTC

Heimhenge wrote:When someone asks me for directions the first thing I assess is whether I should use "turn left" or "turn north" (or whatever direction). [...] Compass directions are less ambiguous, so that's how I prefer to give directions.


As long as you start with a travel direction, i.e. "continue down this road until" or "go that way then", left and right are unambiguous if your discussing streets.

If you're talking backwoods navigation, then yeah, compass directions, although I'd prefer degrees to "north", but on streets, I'm really not clear why you'd ever use anything other than left and right.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby DanD » Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:11 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:There's a highway that runs through my hometown from the ocean to the mountains, and also over the mountains. I once long got lost on a foggy moonless night on the other side of the mountains on that highway, and figured one of two things would soon happen if I continued driving along it: I would either reach the mountains and know I was on the right track and keep going that way until I got home, or else I would intersect the much larger highway that's not too far in the opposite direction running perpendicular to the inland direction I knew that highway to run, and know I was going the wrong way.

What I did not expect was that somehow amidst the various winds of the highway, it would end up running parallel to the coast/mountains/larger highway, and I might end up driving on it for way longer than I had anticipated wondering when the hell it was going to intersect some identifiable landmark or another, until I eventually crossed another highway that also ran inland from the coast along the far edge of the neighboring county, and realized I had to turn back.


This was apparently how my brother learned to navigate in Boston pre-GPS. He'd just identify the major landmarks (roads, rivers, coast, etc) that bounded his destination, and when he missed the destination (it's Boston, you will miss your destination), he'd just turn around at the boundary and reattempt.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby Ranbot » Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:22 pm UTC

Reka wrote:
Ranbot wrote:
sotanaht wrote:Considering that roads around here usually don't go in the direction they say they do (ie "west" on a certain highway might in fact be more north or south)...

Same thing here where I live (Philadelphia suburbs); many of the roads go in a NE-SW or NW-SE directions. [...] just because the road is labeled in one direction doesn't mean you're always going in that direction. In fact, a major interstate (I-95) essentially makes a very wide U-turn over many miles; such that you can drive on I-95 "North" and it slowly turns east and then almost due South where the road changes names to I-295 South. It's very confusing to people unfamiliar with the area.

You beat me to it. It's even more confusing from the other end, i.e. you're going south through New Jersey (probably on I-95, just to be all, like, crystal-clear and stuff), and then you exit onto US 1, go quite a few miles west(ish)... and then you get to an intersection that essentially says, go north here to get on I-95 south. Which, as we established, is now about 20 miles behind you, because in addition to that U-turn, there are actually two completely different roads, which never meet, that are called I-95.

Yeah, and if the interstate numbers and directions weren't confusing enough, the locals use alternative names for the roads instead of the designated numbers on signs/maps. Road re-naming is a little more prevalent around Philadelphia than NJ though. When I moved to the area from VT almost 20 years ago, I was relying on paper maps and signs to navigate, which use the numbers, but when I talked to people or listened to radio traffic updates they would refer major roads as:

"Turnpike" and hopefully they specified PA Turnpike (I-76/I-276) or NJ Turnpike (I-95)
"Schuylkill Expressway" or "The Schuylkill" (I-76)
"Blue Route" (portion of I-476 south of PA Turnpike)
"Northeast Extension" (portion of I-476 north of PA Turnpike)
Vine Street Expressway (I-676)
Atlantic City Expressway (Rt-42)

I would tell people [with tongue-in-cheek] there is no sign on the road or label on a map stating this road is what you are calling it. Please use the designated road numbers like the rest of the United States does.


EDIT: There are also some amazing road names around me like "Street Road" and "New Road" that are totally legit names, but make you do a double-take the first time you see or hear them.... but I digress.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby speising » Fri Mar 09, 2018 5:05 pm UTC

DanD wrote:
This was apparently how my brother learned to navigate in Boston pre-GPS. He'd just identify the major landmarks (roads, rivers, coast, etc) that bounded his destination, and when he missed the destination (it's Boston, you will miss your destination), he'd just turn around at the boundary and reattempt.

that's roomba's strategy, together with a random twist after the bump. looks rather inefficient if your goal isn't to cover as much ground as possible, tbh.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Mar 09, 2018 6:18 pm UTC

speising wrote:
DanD wrote:
This was apparently how my brother learned to navigate in Boston pre-GPS. He'd just identify the major landmarks (roads, rivers, coast, etc) that bounded his destination, and when he missed the destination (it's Boston, you will miss your destination), he'd just turn around at the boundary and reattempt.

that's roomba's strategy, together with a random twist after the bump. looks rather inefficient if your goal isn't to cover as much ground as possible, tbh.

But if you've not got a better way, you better just suck it up…

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby GlassHouses » Fri Mar 09, 2018 6:50 pm UTC

Reka wrote:I'm one of those who never learned "left" and "right" - I mean, I know which side is which, I just don't know which word goes with which side. Growing up in Southern California, I was pretty good about west=north vs. south=east, just based on "the ocean's that-a-way"... and then I moved to the opposite coast. It still feels wrong to be facing north and having the ocean on the right.

I have never had a problem with left and right, but I recognize the east vs. west problem. Even after more than 15 years in New Jersey, my mind still thinks west is towards the ocean (or rather, "the sea," because the Netherlands are on the North Sea, which, although hydrologically part of the Atlantic Ocean, nobody calls The Ocean, like people in NJ do). I'm still making wrong turns every now and then because of this.

Soupspoon wrote:In Holland (and much of the Netherlands, at least for this first bit) North is towards the North Sea. That which is not to the west. Or (despite all efforts by the locals) all around you, though much of that is the Muddy Sea and the Southern Sea is to your east, and now merely a Meer.

Or something like that! I've not the expertise of the locals, one or two of which might be :roll: right now, my having only been there twice in person. :P

Well, technically, north is towards the Waddenzee (or Muddy Sea, if you insist :)), unless you're on the Wadden Islands. But for most people, "the coast" is the western coast, i.e. pretty much the coast of Holland (as in: the provinces of North and South Holland, not its technically incorrect yet widely used meaning of the Netherlands as a whole), because that's where most of the people live, and that's where people go to spend a day at the beach.
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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby ucim » Fri Mar 09, 2018 6:53 pm UTC

There are only four cardinal directions: North, South, Right-facing-north, and Left-facing-north.

"East" and "West" are the makings of the Illuminati. Don't fall for it!

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby pex » Fri Mar 09, 2018 8:15 pm UTC

GlassHouses wrote:the western coast, i.e. pretty much the coast of Holland (as in: the provinces of North and South Holland, not its technically incorrect yet widely used meaning of the Netherlands as a whole)

Don't forget that North Holland also has an eastern coast. Which used to be on the Southern Sea.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby scharb » Fri Mar 09, 2018 10:12 pm UTC

One could probably very easily create an app that determines one's exact location and orientation relative to the equatorial plane, solar plane, galactic plane, etc., by simply extrapolating from the time, GPS coordinates, and internal gyroscope of your typical smartphone.

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Re: 1964: Derv Nagy

Postby drjamesaustin » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:19 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
JohnBurger wrote:There's a brilliant SF book by Gertrude Friedberg, "The Revolving Boy" (1966).
A delightful book! Read it many years ago and never figured on encountering it again, it being kind of obscure. But where else but on xkcd. :)

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Seconded! (I just logged on here to check whether anyone else had posted about it). Highly recommended.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby somitomi » Sat Mar 10, 2018 7:54 am UTC

Mikeski wrote:n/s/e/w people set it so the map doesn't rotate, and the top is always "north".

Or are there left/right people who like non-rotating maps? (I'm a n/s/e/w non-rotator, myself.)

I think I'm such a person, I've never used cardinal directions for road navigation and I don't think anybody else does around here. Yet the map app rotating while I'm trying to zoom earns nothing but scorn from me, although I usually leave the rotating map on when I actually use my phone (or a GPS) to guide me somewhere. I don't usually do that, because I dislike not knowing where I'm going after this next turn1, so if i'm roughly familiar with the area I just look at the route suggested by my phone beforehand and memorize some keypoints.

1That's probably a fault of people telling me to turn left from a 6-lane boulevard right as I reach the intersection in the rightmost lane.
—◯-◯

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby AndrewGPaul » Sat Mar 10, 2018 12:04 pm UTC

If I were to use a paper map while navigating, then I'd rotate it in my hands so it lines up with the actual landscape. With a digital map on a phone or sat-nav, the auto-rotation is just the same thing. With the added advantage that all the words stay the right way up. :)

As for roundabouts, I've noticed that they usually now say "at the roundabout take the second exit onto the A749" or whatever, so you've got a second point of reference. Usually it's minor exits that aren't counted, leading to bad directions (things like entrances to premises directly off the roundabout, or small lanes rather than "proper" roads). Or your map data isn't up to date.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Mar 10, 2018 1:40 pm UTC

AndrewGPaul wrote:As for roundabouts, I've noticed that they usually now say "at the roundabout take the second exit onto the A749" or whatever, so you've got a second point of reference. Usually it's minor exits that aren't counted, leading to bad directions (things like entrances to premises directly off the roundabout, or small lanes rather than "proper" roads). Or your map data isn't up to date.

Not my device, so I can't say for sure (except that it quite specifically didn't say anything about road numbers, just the "(in X
-hundred (yards/metres)/at the next roundabout) take the 2nd exit" sort of thing) but it should have been up-to-date, knowing the owner of it. And to have described the obvious-1st-exit the 2nd could have (inverse to your "that are not counted" suggestion) been a very-very-minor track off that was included, if it weren't that this would have had to have been accessed only via the slip-by lane used to avoid entering and immediately exiting the island.

Likeliest theory: computer cock-up. (Which, ultimately, was actually down to an ID-0x0A-T error via HID-mismanagement during the visio-spatial validation phase, back at TomTom-Or-Similar HQ's DED.)


(But I won't argue with anyone who actually rotates paper maps, as this makes you obviously entirely wrong about everything. :P)

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby Wee Red Bird » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:33 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:
Wee Red Bird wrote:My first time using a satnav was travelling abroad. UK you drive on the left and the steering wheel is on the right. I was in Holland. They drive on the right, the steering wheel is on the left (so you have to align the car differently in the lane) and all their signs are difficult to pronounce for a visitor. Last thing I need to fight with is which way north was.

In Holland (and much of the Netherlands, at least for this first bit) North is towards the North Sea. That which is not to the west. Or (despite all efforts by the locals) all around you, though much of that is the Muddy Sea and the Southern Sea is to your east, and now merely a Meer.

Or something like that! I've not the expertise of the locals, one or two of which might be :roll: right now, my having only been there twice in person. :P


And if you live in a place where the sea is to the south and visiting in a place where the sea is to the north (and you are in sight of it) your instinct to a compass direction is going to be in the wrong direction.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby xtifr » Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:33 pm UTC

When giving directions, I tend to only use n/s/e/w with locals--people I know--since I can be fairly sure they know which direction the local streets run. With passing strangers, I'll start by pointing and use left/right beyond that.

As a west-coast boy, I instinctively think of downhill as west, which means I frequently get lost in San Francisco, which is surrounded by water on three sides, and has a bunch of random hills in the middle....
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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby AndrewGPaul » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:32 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:(But I won't argue with anyone who actually rotates paper maps, as this makes you obviously entirely wrong about everything. :P)


Sometimes I rotate the map in my hands, sometimes I turn in place whilst holding the map. How else would you align the map with the landscape? :)

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby ColletArrow » Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:48 pm UTC

AndrewGPaul wrote:
Soupspoon wrote:(But I won't argue with anyone who actually rotates paper maps, as this makes you obviously entirely wrong about everything. :P)

Sometimes I rotate the map in my hands, sometimes I turn in place whilst holding the map. How else would you align the map with the landscape? :)

We were always instructed as British scouts to rotate the map whilst remaining fixed to the ground; I'm sure there was a reason not to turn your whole body, although I can't remember what it was. Either way, "orientating" the map (as we called it) is useful when lost in nowhere, as I have been many times during hikes; correlating the paper representation to what you've just walked past is easier when they're pointing the same way. Although a compass is always to hand in these situations to assist.
However, regarding the car SatNav/GPS discussion, I always prefer the map with North fixed upwards, so I can correlate the image with other maps I have seen of the area, or my instinct; seeing the country sideways or upside down is confusing. This early-programmed "north-at-the-top" thing makes me feel weird about north-flowing rivers though, as they're going up the page, which just feels strange.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:13 am UTC

I was a fluent map reader from before I even joined Cubs, so I probably just ignored any such inconvenient advice given by others. Just like I ignored the advice to lean back if I had a nosebleed, and have certainly been proven to be correct about that since.

If you really need to work out which feature on the horizon is the correct one, based upon one's presumed1 position on the map, and can't/won't (as per footnote) transfer angles at will between two different points of reference, one should rotate onself+map to align to geographic north (remember the local magnetic deviation, if you have a compass, but if you have a compass as described below then you aren't neexing to so this!) then can be laid/held still if you need to wander around it to align virtual and real lines of sight align. But if you're doing this, you're really already in trouble, and further rotating the map against you and the ground isn't going to help your confusion at all.


The one useful navigation technique I learnt in Scouts (and it wasn't until much later) is Aiming Off. If you're trying to hit a linear feature at a particular point (say a plateau edge, down which you know your path will at some point lead you off of), best to aim to the left, slightly, then when you get there travel back to the right to find your point (or vice-versa, according to preference and local conditions) than think you've aimed at the point, but miss it by some effective error bar in either direction, and now not know whether you should start looking left or right along the otherwise featureless feature for your intended waypoint.


1 If you can't presume this, from the start, then you need to triangulate to start with. If you have a proper compass with a rotating bevel, etc, then you can sort that out without the fuss of trying to contort oneself and one's map in peculiar ways. If you don't have that, then you use crossed sticks and/or various positions of the hand to transfer angles around from The Real World to the map, and vice-versa, first of all sighting to find any comfirmable cardinal direction.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby mashnut » Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:07 am UTC

ColletArrow wrote:
AndrewGPaul wrote:
Soupspoon wrote:(But I won't argue with anyone who actually rotates paper maps, as this makes you obviously entirely wrong about everything. :P)

Sometimes I rotate the map in my hands, sometimes I turn in place whilst holding the map. How else would you align the map with the landscape? :)

We were always instructed as British scouts to rotate the map whilst remaining fixed to the ground; I'm sure there was a reason not to turn your whole body, although I can't remember what it was. Either way, "orientating" the map (as we called it) is useful when lost in nowhere, as I have been many times during hikes; correlating the paper representation to what you've just walked past is easier when they're pointing the same way. Although a compass is always to hand in these situations to assist.
However, regarding the car SatNav/GPS discussion, I always prefer the map with North fixed upwards, so I can correlate the image with other maps I have seen of the area, or my instinct; seeing the country sideways or upside down is confusing. This early-programmed "north-at-the-top" thing makes me feel weird about north-flowing rivers though, as they're going up the page, which just feels strange.


Yeah, I agree with all of this. if I'm looking at a topo map while in the place the map represents, I'll orient the map to the landscape (and usually hold the map parallel with the ground). With road maps I keep north up regardless of my personal orientation (and hold the map perpendicular to the ground). Interesting, I hadn't thought about that divergent behavior before now.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby Eternal Density » Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:04 am UTC

Lately I've been wondering how our view of the Milky Way galaxy in the night sky relates to images showing what the Milky Way would look like from an outside perspective. I'd like to see an animation showing how the points of view relate.
ucim wrote:
DJ JD wrote:is there any way for us to know exactly how fast we're actually going, in some sort of absolute terms?
No, because there's no such thing as "absolute" position. It's not like the universe is a grid. There's nothing there, literally, except other moving parts.

There's a whole thread on this, but it's rather high pressure. :)

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For bonus fun, kinetic energy is also frame dependent, since kinetic energy depends on velocity and velocity depends on what frame of reference you're using. But before anyone wonders where the energy goes when you change reference frames (as I briefly did), rest assured that it all works out okay when you consider the 4-dimensional energy-momentum vector...

I also wonder about the source of SecondTalon's avatar, which I hadn't seen in ages and never thought to ask about.
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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Mar 16, 2018 2:06 am UTC

Eternal Density wrote:
Lately I've been wondering how our view of the Milky Way galaxy in the night sky relates to images showing what the Milky Way would look like from an outside perspective. I'd like to see an animation showing how the points of view relate.
Try Celestia.
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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby sny » Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:49 am UTC

This quote came to mind when reading the comic:

I am standing on the threshold about to enter a room. It is a complicated business. In the first place, I must shove against an atmosphere pressing with a force of fourteen pounds on every square inch of my body. I must make sure of landing on a plank travelling at twenty miles a second round the sun — a fraction of a second too early or too late, the plank would be miles away. I must do this whilst hanging from a round planet head outward into space, and with a wind of aether blowing at no one knows how many miles a second through every interstice of my body. The plank has no solidity of substance. To step on it is like stepping on a swarm of flies. Shall I not slip through? No, if I make the venture one of the flies hits me and gives a boost up again; I fall again and am knocked upwards by another fly; and so on. I may hope that the net result will be that I remain about steady, but if, unfortunately, I should slip through the floor or be boosted too violently up to the ceiling, the occurrence would be, not a violation of the laws of Nature, but a rare coincidence. These are some of the minor difficulties. I ought really to look at the problem four-dimensionally as concerning the intersection of my world-line with that of the plank. Then again, it is necessary to determine in which direction the entropy of the world is increasing in order to make sure that my passage over the threshold is an entrance, not an exit. Verily, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a scientific man to pass through a door. And whether the door be barn door or church door it might be wiser that he should consent to be an ordinary man and walk in rather than wait till all the difficulties involved in a really scientific ingress are resolved.

/Arthur Eddington, 1927/

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby speising » Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:26 pm UTC

sny wrote:
... a wind of aether ... scientific man ... 1927


hm. fail.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby SuicideJunkie » Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:27 pm UTC

speising wrote:
sny wrote:
... a wind of aether ... scientific man ... 1927


hm. fail.
I'm sure he was just downplaying the twisted vortex of spacetime itself near this planet to avoid causing a panic.
These days we also have to worry about the gravity waves distorting even our best measuring devices. Not to mention the crossed streams of dark matter and neutrinos.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby Eternal Density » Sun Mar 25, 2018 9:59 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Eternal Density wrote:
Lately I've been wondering how our view of the Milky Way galaxy in the night sky relates to images showing what the Milky Way would look like from an outside perspective. I'd like to see an animation showing how the points of view relate.
Try Celestia.

Looks like it should do it, thanks.
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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby markfiend » Mon Mar 26, 2018 10:26 am UTC

I was thinking about this comic the other day while having a bit of a toke on a doobie. I got as far as "I'm facing west, so the Earth's spin is carrying me backwards" and then I fell over.
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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby Mikeski » Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:36 am UTC

markfiend wrote:I was thinking about this comic the other day while having a bit of a toke on a doobie. I got as far as "I'm facing west, so the Earth's spin is carrying me backwards" and then I fell over.

I was on my feet, and the earth carried me backwards.

Now I'm on my back, and the earth is carrying me feetwards.

Dude.

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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby markfiend » Tue Mar 27, 2018 9:58 am UTC

Actually I fell over backwards, so the earth was carrying me headwards.

Dude. :mrgreen:
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Re: 1964: "Spatial Orientation"

Postby somitomi » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:22 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:Actually I fell over backwards, so the earth was carrying me headwards.

Dude. :mrgreen:

This would be easier on Discworld, wouldn't it?
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