Why does campfire smoke “follow people around?”


Why does campfire smoke “follow people around?”

In: Physics

When you move you create minor low pressure areas in your wake, and the smoke follows that. However once you stop moving, or in a steady breeze, these quickly go away.

Generally, smoke doesn’t actually follow you around a campfire. You’re just sitting too close and random eddies in the air are giving you a faceful of smoke. If you stop sitting so close that your shoes are toasting on the rocks, you won’t have this problem unless you’re actually sitting downwind of a smoky fire.

Smoke doesn’t really follow you around. Like many things, the perception that it does is due to a confirmation bias. You’ve heard that it follows people, so you’re more likely to notice and remember when the smoke seems to go towards you. You’re less likely to notice all the time it’s not going towards you, or to notice that it’s spreading out in other directions where you happen to not be. The actual direction the smoke goes is pretty random, especially if there’s no wind