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Spirals inspire walking aids for people with disabilities

Engineers design a special shoe that may improve gait and a skateboard that rocks and rolls

By
2:00pm, October 31, 2014
spiral stairs

SPIRAL STEPS  The spiral’s unique characteristics may help disabled people get where they’re going.

Consider the wheel. Round. Dependable. Boring. Hasn’t been redesigned in centuries. Positively Neolithic.

Now consider the spiral. Eccentric. Open-ended. Captivating. Native Americans carved spirals as petroglyphs. The Greek mathematician Archimedes wrote about them around 225 B.C. Jacob Bernoulli, a 17th century mathematician, had a spiral engraved on his tombstone.

As an alternative to the lackluster wheel, the quirky spiral may be the key to forward motion for people who have trouble walking on their own.

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