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<   No. 1704   2007-09-26   >

Comic #1704

1 Monty: Wait. Why are we running in front of this giant stone ball? Let's duck sideways.
2 {The Joneses and Dr Smith step aside and let the giant stone ball roll past.}
3 {It continues on in a straight line, crashing through the library, leaving them unscatched.}
4 Minnesota Jones: Well, you took all the drama out of that one.

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The better class of films tend to get this sort of thing right, but many others don't.

2018-04-04 Rerun commentary: Not doing this is so common in fiction that it's a trope.

In reality, many animals will flee directly away from anything chasing them, and not deviate to either side. If the thing "chasing" them is a car, this often leads to the animal having a disastrous collision.

But the reason animals do this is straightforward[1] when you think about it. If an animal is fleeing a predator, and it turns to one side, the predator will turn to follow it, cutting off the diagonal and thus catching up. By turning aside, the fleeing prey animal has made the chasing predator's job easier, and the fleeing animal is more likely to be caught and eaten. So the best course of action is always to flee in a straight line directly ahead of the predator.

Well, not always always. If the prey animal is more manoeuvrable than the predator, it might be able to dodge rapidly and the predator will overshoot and lose time having to make course corrections. This does happen but is relatively rare, as the prey animal needs to be really confident of its superior dodging abilities to make this tactic worth the risk.

[1] No pun inten—

No, what the heck. I'll claim it.

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