More Thanh Words

"My name is Thanh and I'm a Blogger". Now that I have admitted to that, I can say that I'm a stereotypical "geeky" Engineer who enjoys sci-fi books and movies and into all things technological. I also love music and have a passion for FOOD. I'm a social person and like to talk to people. I hate people who are fake or overly aggressive. If you're also into some serious discussion, with a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of real emotion, then please read on.

Monday, February 26, 2007

How To Find Your Way Out Of A Maze

This post will be about a useless piece of knowledge that may save your life one day. Ok, so here's the scenario. Imagine you are lost in a huge maze, and if you don't get out in a few minutes, an evil monster will enter the maze and eat you alive. So what's the best way to get out of a maze I hear you ask. Well, Adrian, Justin and I put that to the test on Sunday. We went on a wine tour around Red Hill, which you can read about here. One of our stops along the way was Ashcombe Maze. It contains a few hedge maze, which are quite large.

Here is Adrian and Justin in the maze.

On the first maze, we took the scientific approach. If you start the maze with your hand on the OUTER wall of the maze, you just keep walking through the maze never taking your hand off the wall. This means that when you hit a dead end, you merely circle around it and keep going. The theory is that since the maze is endless, no matter how many dead ends you hit, as long as you keep your hand on the wall and keep going around the dead ends, you will eventually find the exit. And unlike Justin's flawed logic, you will never get stuck on an "island" where you keep going round and round the same square area. Since you start on the outer wall, you will never get onto the inner walls where the islands are. If you start the maze in the middle and use this technique, you may find yourself going around an island. If this occurs, just switch to the other wall and you know that you are now on the outer wall. Using this trick, we were able to progress through the first maze in about 3 minutes.

The was the fountain that greeted us upon finishing the first maze and about to enter the second maze.

In our second attempt at the second maze, we had to see how the scientific approach at going through a maze compared to the usual "use your instincts" approach as Adrian called it. Given that the mazes were different, we knew this was not the most scientifically controlled experiment, but hey, we were there to have some fun too.

So this time, we set out into the maze using our instincts to guide us out. At each turn, we just took the one that we thought would be lead us out. We soon found out that our instincts are not very good at solving mazes. We went round and round many times, passing the same area numerous times. There were lots of "Did we go past here before" and "I think this looks familiar". We even resorted to marking the grounds so that we knew where we had passed earlier. This did not help either. Eventually, after 10-15 minutes and getting hot and bothered, we said, lets do the hand thing again. Within about two minutes, we found our way out of the maze.

The problem with using our instincts was that we made flawed assumptions. For example, we thought that the exit would be in the far diagonal corner, hence kept choosing routes that went in that general direction. However, the exit to the second maze turned out to be on the side and close to the entrance. Also, even if we were going in the general direction of the exit, those routes might be wrong anyway. Only the right route would keep going in that direction. The rest would eventually go other directions, meaning that we had to try and track back to the start and go another direction. However, the hedges all looked alike and it was very hard to get a bearing.

So in conclusion to this thesis, I conclude that should you ever get stuck in a maze, just put your hand on the outer wall and keep going, never lifting your hand off the wall. Eventually, you will find your way out, much faster than using your instincts.


Blogger afrobev said...

Thanks Thanh. I will take that on board when I am trying to get out of my estate. That's like a bloody maze sometimes :)

2/27/2007 10:07 PM  
Blogger A-la-la-la-n said...

LOL...i liked this line the best:

" don't get out in a few minutes, an evil monster will enter the maze and eat you alive."

Yes...thats an awesome reason.

2/27/2007 10:24 PM  
Blogger thanh7580 said...

James, you live in an estate? My understanding of estate is like a castle with 12 acres of land. You must be richer than I thought if you live in something like that. Or is estate another term for town house in Wales?

Alan, you never know, it could happen and you will think back to this post and go "I was glad I learnt that important piece of information from Thanh, he's my saviour. I owe him my life and will do everything in my power to repay him." Hahahaha.

2/28/2007 6:38 PM  
Blogger The Oriental Express said...

I am never good at things like this. Sure to get lost!

2/28/2007 9:44 PM  
Blogger thanh7580 said...

I'm equally bad with direction Choo. I get lost so easily, even when I'm driving in streets that I have visited quite a few times.

3/01/2007 8:13 PM  

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