New Stuff Tuesday – September 10, 2019

Wayfinding book cover

Wayfinding: The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World
by M. R. O’Connor
QP443 .O28 2019
New Arrivals Island, 2nd floor

How do humans get around, anyway? We don’t have little magnetic chips in our heads like so many bird species that allow them to migrate each winter. Some people seem to have an innate sense of direction – and others are clueless about direction. Have we lost our natural skills from living in “civilization”?

Science write M. R. O’Connor explores in-depth the question of how humans navigate their world. She traveled from pole to pole and points in-between to meet with scientists and all manner of scholars and navigational experts to chart her course. And, of course, she got lost along the way!

From her first smartphone, O’Connor realized how dependent she and others have become on technology to get where they’re going. Yet long before maps, compasses, sextants, and GPS devices, humans successfully navigated across land and sea with nothing more than their own smarts and clues from the natural world. They also learned to convey navigational information to others, even without a written language.

Whether you’re directionally challenged – or can navigate by instinct, this is an interesting work that will make you pause in wonder at the amazing capabilities humans have to get around and how it distinguishes us from other creatures.

The author discusses her book in this Youtube video if you’d like to learn more.

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