Comprehensive coverage

The wisdom of the path

Why are ancient paths paved in zigzags? Scientists claim to have found physical proof

Zigzag path
Zigzag path

Already many years ago, every traveler on the desert paths who tried to climb the mountain learned the saying attributed to the Bedouins: "The path is wiser than the one who walks on it". Later we knew how to easily recognize the difference between an ancient path and a new path, if only because of the fact that ancient steps were always "zigzagging" while new paths go straight up, sometimes at right angles. The "wisdom of the ancient path" was known, recognized and appreciated by all mountain climbers. Now "wisdom" has been given an official goshpanka.

A straight line is indeed the shortest distance between two points, but it turns out that on a steep side the zigzag path is faster, two researchers came to this conclusion: Marcos Llobera - University of Washington; TJ Sluckin – University of Southampton. According to the researchers, when walking on straight terrain, the shortest and fastest way is indeed in a straight line, but when you get to slopes, the picture changes, the researchers created a mathematical model that showed the mechanical differences and energy expenditure when walking on flat terrain compared to going up a slope. According to them: "Establishing a critical angle above which a higher angle causes a high metabolic cost and wasted energy."

That is, on a slope whose angle is sharper than the critical angle (which they don't specify), an obligee who is going to reverse directions, reversing directions or walking in a zigzag is largely done unconsciously/automatically. And so because of the energy cost, zigzag walking becomes effective and short.

This kind of research can be said to be "reinventing the wheel", but this time the invention is seasoned with a mathematical/scientific proof. And about this the Bedouin already said: "The path is wiser than the one who walks on it".

Dr. Assaf Rosenthal, ecologist,
Tour guide/leader in Africa and South America.
For details: Tel. 0505640309 / 077-6172298,

7 תגובות

  1. lion:
    It says that they do not specify the critical angle.
    It also doesn't seem like a complicated calculation to me and is probably also a function of the model they made for the person. As it is, the news is not really interesting and I was hoping that in the link it would be possible to find more meat (even though I am a vegetarian)

  2. Michael
    From the wording of the news it is quite clear that their innovation is the determination of the optimal energetically. Determining the critical angle from which to start is worthwhile to zigzag and probably also what is the optimal zigzag measurement for a certain angle.

  3. What, it wasn't clear in advance? The zigzag walk is considered to be a downshift. Starting from a certain slope and up, it is not possible to go straight up at all and walking in a zig zag is the only way you can climb.
    It is interesting to see a link to the article and understand if they have innovated something beyond the obvious.

Leave a Reply

Email will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismat to prevent spam messages. Click here to learn how your response data is processed.