Getting up on your own two
A century of research on the development of walking has examined
periodic gait over a straight, uniform path. The current study provides
the first corpus of natural infant locomotion derived from
spontaneous activity during free play.
Locomotor experience was immense: Twelve- to 19-month-olds
averaged 2,368 steps and 17 falls per hour.
Immense amounts of time-distributed, variable practice constitute
the natural practice regimen for learning to walk. 11
A Balm for Body and Brain
Walking – what happens in the mind in motion?
Sir William Rowan Hamilton, mathematician at Trinity
‘quaternions’ extend the mathematical theory of
complex numbers to 3d space
Mathematics are strange and alien:
Ordinary arithmetic, 3+4 = 4+3.
Quaternions: not true.
Quaternions used in physics, computer gaming and
(and electric toothbrushes!)
Hamilton discovered the solution on his regular long
walks from Dunsink Observatory to Trinity College – a
walk of c. 11 km
‘And here there dawned on me the notion that we
must admit, in some sense, a fourth dimension of
space for the purpose of calculating with triples ...
An electric circuit seemed to close, and a spark
Will walking me more creative?
Older = less creative?
Not all walking ideas are good ones…
How much do I walk?
Smartphone data from over 68 million days of activity by 717,527
individuals reveal variability in physical activity across the world
T Althoff et al. Nature 1–4 (2017) doi:10.1038/nature23018
Which sense is most important
for navigating the world?
Erickson et al (2011): randomised control trial in 120 older people -
exercise intervention reversed declines in hippocampal volumes (by c. 1-
2 years – c. 2%) using structural MRI, concomitant with improvements in
memory function and increases in circulating BDNF.
What problem does having a brain
Why do we have a brain?
Image: Arjan Gittenberger
Larval Tunicate, Phylum Chordata
By Jon Houseman - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25858232
itself to a rock,
the Sea Squirt
absorbs its own
Suppose you’re a little bit sea squirty, and you prefer
Outcomes of 3d of dry immersion
‘Three days of muscle disuse in healthy adult subjects is sufficient to
significantly decrease muscle mass, tone and force, and to induce
changes in function relating to a weakness in aerobic metabolism and
muscle fibre denervation.’
Being Homer Simpson is bad for you
Most of our Walking will
be URBAN – in towns and
Our streets used to be terrible
John Gay’s 1716 poem warned of the dangers posed by the
emptying of chamber-pots when walking underneath
London windows, where
‘dropping vaults distil unwholesome dews
Ere the tiles rattle with the smoking shower
And spouts on heedless men their torrents pour’
Our streets are quite often still
terrible for walkers
The Font junction is notable in that it does not have pedestrian crossings on all arms, and the crossings are staged in order to
regulate pedestrians for the benefit of motorists. On Friday 6th September, shortly after 11am, it took FOURTEEN MINUTES to
Concern pedestrian crossing at
Spanish Arch causing daily backlog
at Lough Atalia Road
Pedestrians are too often
ignored in favour of motorists
And yet: favourite places in Galway are places
pedestrians congregate and amble about
1. Eyre Square
2. Galway Christmas Market
3. St. Nicholas' Church
4. Galway Cathedral
5. The Corrib Princess
6. Galway City Museum
7. The Aran Islands
9. The Burren
10. The Cliffs of Moher
EASE our towns and cities
easy (to walk)
accessible (to all)
safe (for everyone)
and enjoyable (for all)
In Praise of
The New Science of
how we Walk and
why it’s Good for us
Professor of Experimental Brain Research
Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College,
Dublin – the University of Dublin