The Physics of Mosh Pits

I was a bit old by the time mosh pits became popular, but I have been in a few clubs where

Image by Eivone and the Noose at deviant art

they were happening. In fact, in one, some of the dancers formed a wall between us and the pit to protect us old folks. It has struck me that mosh pits, mostly the domain of young men, offer an opportunity for them to dance together without social opprobrium. In many areas, women are not socially punished for dancing with each other, but the same cannot be said of men dancing with men.

Researchers have now determined that individuals moving in mosh pits move according to physical laws of gasses, especially the Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution.

 In physics, particularly statistical mechanics, the Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution or Maxwell distribution describes particle speeds in gases, where the particles move freely without interacting with one another, except for very brief elastic collisions in which they may exchange momentum and kinetic energy, but do not change their respective states of intramolecular excitation, as a function of the temperature of the system, the mass of the particle, and speed of the particle.

The researchers, from Cornell University published their results in the journal  Physical Review Letters.
Collective motion of humans in mosh and circle pits at heavy metal concerts. Silverberg JL, Bierbaum M, Sethna JP, Cohen I.

Abstract Human collective behavior can vary from calm to panicked depending on social context. Using videos publicly available online, we study the highly energized collective motion of attendees at heavy metal concerts. We find these extreme social gatherings generate similarly extreme behaviors: a disordered gaslike state called a mosh pit and an ordered vortexlike state called a circle pit. Both phenomena are reproduced in flocking simulations demonstrating that human collective behavior is consistent with the predictions of simplified models.

And, as always, head bang safely.

via Seriously Science

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