Grad students and professors at Cornell University are finding order in the chaos of rock concerts:
In a run-of-the-mill mosh pit, [researcher Matthew] Bierbaum said, dancers collide with each other randomly and at a distribution of speeds that resembles particles in a two-dimensional gas. “How these supposedly intelligent beings behave like an ideal gas, I don’t know,” the physicist quipped. Some moshers don’t move completely randomly, however. In circle pits, a subset of mosh pits, dancers collide in a vortexlike pattern. So Bierbaum and the other Cornell physicists described this behavior with a computer simulation based on flocking, a phenomenon that results when particles follow their neighbors…. The Cornell team hopes to use [their model] to study how crowds move in emergency situations such as riots, he said.
A few massive, NSFW circle pits are seen above.