Go to more links in this section

Science Now

Science Now header graphic


Mouse Race

Your computer mouse was designed to let you move around the screen easily. It's a pretty natural interface. What happens when you make the interface a lot less natural?

Lap 1:

  • This is the warm-up lap. Hold your computer mouse as usual and travel around the track.
  • Move the mouse right and the cursor goes right. That's pretty natural.
  • Push your mouse away and the cursor moves up. Maybe that's not quite so obvious....

Lap 2:

  • Hold your mouse upside down, with the tail pointing toward you.
  • Try the race again. But now right is left and up is down.
  • What happens to your time? Do you think an astronomer might do better?

Lap 3:

  • Hold your mouse sideways, so the tail points right or left.
  • Now up and down get mixed up with side-to-side. (Can you even get to the start zone?)
  • Why do you end up moving in circles so much?
  • Does it make a difference whether the tail points right or left?