Physics simulation of humans at heavy metal concerts forming a mosh pit

From Atai Cohen Group:

Flocks of birds and schools of fish are two common examples of collective motion. Though herding behavior in animals is well recognized, humans exhibit their own set of emergent phenomena. For example, pedestrians walking down the sidewalk form lanes, and stadium crowds perform “The Wave”. In more extreme situations, like those found during an earthquake or a fire, panicked crowds can stampede causing injury and even death. Thus, scientists try to figure out how to build buildings (or stadiums, concert halls, etc.) to mitigate these risks. However, it’s not exactly ethical to start a riot for the sake of science, so we’re limited to simulating evacuations either with volunteers or on computers. The problem with this is that panicked humans act according to very different social rules, adding a element of uncertainty to this research. To address this concern, we used the extreme social conditions found at heavy metal concerts as a proxy to explore the emergent behaviors humans can exhibit in atypical circumstances. To get an idea of what happens, see the YouTube videos at the bottom of this page.