Jesse Silverberg and colleagues at Cornell University in Ithaca studied mosh pits in crowds of 100 to 100,000 people. After removing camera shake from YouTube videos, they used special techniques to measure how moshers move around.
They found that rock fans would begin to move in vortex-like patterns, such as those seen in the video below.
To check their findings they were able to simulate moshing inside a computer, which was easily reproduced according to Technology Review.
"These ﬁndings offer strong support for the analogy between mosh pits and gases," said the researchers. "The collective mood is inﬂuenced by the combination of loud, fast music (130 dB, 350 beats per minute), synchronized with bright, ﬂashing lights, and frequent intoxication."
The scientists say it raises interesting new questions. "Why does an inherently non-equilibrium system exhibit equilibrium characteristics?" they ask. Hey, don't look at me.