UT Astrophysicist is also a world class orienteer

The Blade

Distance is not something that Alison Crocker finds the least bit intimidating. She is currently studying “nearby” galaxies — those within 30-to-60 million light years of earth, or roughly 180 trillion miles away, or more.

Read more at http://www.The University of Toledo astrophysicist is adept at traversing through vast expanses of space, and she also can skillfully make her way through the woods and hills of central Finland, where she recently competed in the World Orienteering Championships.

Away from her computer screen and the countless images of our space neighborhood that have been captured by telescopes from all over the world, Crocker is the top American woman in the sport of orienteering, which is essentially a race in wilderness navigation. The sport traces its roots to a training exercise in land navigation developed for the military in Sweden late in the 19th century.

In contemporary orienteering, the competitors receive a map at the moment the race starts, revealing a course they have never seen before.

With just a compass and the coordinates on the map, they must check in at a series of points on the course, while navigating over often rugged terrain.

An electronic device worn on their hand makes a record of the control points the runners reach, and the competitor who hits those check points in the proper order, with the fewest mistakes in finding their route along the way, and does so in the shortest time, wins the race.

“This is more fun than running,” said Crocker. “All you get is a map, and then every point is a puzzle to try and get to. It’s not surprising that almost all orienteers are math-science people.”

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