A totally serious and non-ironic scientific study of mosh pits has used theories of ‘collective motion’ and the ‘physical properties of gasses’ to understand the phenomena of violent dance. Yeah! Science, Bitch!
Appearing in National Geographic this week, the report details how two doctorate students from Cornell University’s department of Condensed Matter Physics (i.e. NERDS) have spent two years at heavy metal concerts, observing the bumping, jostling and slamming of the crowd, also known as partying.
To be fair, the study has an aim to explore the similar human panic responses in extreme situations such as riots or disasters. That doesn’t make it any less amusing to detail metal-junkies in regards to their scientific properties.
So, with that in mind here are the 4 most fascinating things we learned from the study:
1. Anthropologists have likened the social ritual of the mosh pit, in reference to its uncontrolled and dynamic nature, to spiritual possession. Exorcisms for all.
2. The mosh pit can be understood by applying models of gaseous particles to it, as they too float around in groups, running, bashing and slamming into each other etc. etc. we are all tiny atoms in this universe.
3. This model differentiated types of moshing as the traditional mosh pit tends to follow the gaseous pattern of particulate behaviour, while the more chaotic circle pit within it adheres to a vortex pattern, proving that… wait what are we trying to prove here again?
4. Physicists have drawn similarities between moshers and herd animals in terms of their ‘flocking’ behaviour and have created a computer model to depict the patterns because we didn’t already know that drunk festival-goers were nothing more than animals in heat at the water hole.
Who needs scientists when Lindsay Lohan made that kind of link back in 2004?
Image by Ed Jones for AFP via Getty Images.