Published on February 14th, 2013 | by Alan Cross0
Mosh Pits and the Physics of Collective Behaviour
Most scientists would look at a mosh pit and dismiss it as a weird example of youthful aggression brought about my intense music. Not Jesse Silverberg, though. He’s a graduate student in physics at Cornell University and a mosher himself.
From The Atlantic:
Being a physicist first and a mosher second (“fieldwork was independently funded“), the student, Jesse Silverberg, can’t help but notice curious patterns in what had always felt like the epitome of chaos. “Being on the outside for the first time, I was absolutely amazed at what I saw — there were all sorts of collective behaviors emerging that I never would have noticed from the inside.” So for an even better perspective, he turns to YouTube, to figure out what happens to people under the “extreme conditions” borne of a combination of “loud, fast music (130 dB, 350 beats per minute) … bright, flashing lights, and frequent intoxication.”
What he found, of course, was the “collective phenomenon consisting of 10^1 to 10^2 participants commonly referred to as a mosh pit.” And he was able to prove his initial observation: While the individual movements of moshers may be random, their collective behavior follows a few simple rules.