Using mosh pit videos from YouTube, a team lead by Itai Cohen developed a computer simulation to predict the behavior of people in large chaotic groups, such as mosh pits. The lead author on the paper graduate student Jesse Silverberg, applied equations designed to describe the movement of gas particles to the movement of people.
Although the thrashing most people observe in a mosh pit seems random, it turns out that movements are quite predictable with the gas molecule equations. The mosh pit simulator, which shows mosh pit participants in red as soft-bodied objects, is able to predict where and when people will move about based on factors such as the number of attendees, the size of the room (box size) and the speed of the music.
Simulations like this could be applied to the behavior of people during other panicked situations such as riots. And isn't that basically what a mosh pit is: a riot fueled by excitement, blast beats and beer?
To play around with the Mosh Pit Simulator, click here.
To read the article from the Cohen group, click here.
To read more about research in the Cohen group, click here.