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The Cornell University Physics Department Published an Academic Paper on Moshing

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Cornell University Moshing Formula

I applied to Cornell for my undergrad degree and I got waitlisted. Little did they know that they were turning down one of the brightest metal minds in the history of the world! Pshhhhh.

But Cornell gains some points in both the “cool” and “metal” columns today with their recently-published academic study entitled “Collective Motion of Moshers at Heavy Metal Concerts.” The study focuses on exactly what you think it does. Here’s the description:

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 gas-like state called a mosh pit and an ordered vortex-like 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.

Even before diving into the study, I feel so much smarter for having read the above description; by golly, mosh pits are disordered gas-like states and circle pits are indeed ordered vortex-like states! Brilliant.

Check out the cover page of the study here, then click “PDF” on the right-hand side to read the paper itself, a totally digestible four page-long piece. There are mathematical formulas! Graphs! Citations! Never before has moshing been so academic, and we love it.

AND, this just in, possibly the best part of all — MS commenter Phuo points out that there’s a Javascript program linked from the report that allows you to simluate your own moshpit using a variety of adjustable metrics including flock strength, noise strength, speed, and more. SO COOL. Give it a whirl right here.

Thanks: Antoine M. and Jeff H.

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