Scientists Study The Art Of Moshing

What have scientists learnt after studying videos of mosh pits at rock concerts? It turns out they behave the same as particles of gas, according to this study.

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Scientists love to study the arcane, chaotic and unpredictable, and try to make sense of it.

That's why they've been studying dozens of moshing videos on YouTube to see what they can learn about people who rock out in the pit at rock gigs - and the results were surprisingly familiar.

It seems that people in mosh pits behave exactly the same as particles of gas at equilibrium, such as inside a balloon.

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.

Watch an example of a monster circle pit here:

YouTube preview picture

95 comments sorted by best / new / date

    WholeLottaIzzy
    Awesome, thank god we got to the bottom of that... Next on our list, cure for cancer!
    metalchris87
    not all scientist study the same subject. you wouldn't ask a drummer for guitar lessons because hes a musician right?
    I.shower.naked
    lol
    N-D
    Hey, mosh pit and circle pit are different things.
    MrCheezus
    If some jerk is slamming and windmilling and kicking and punching and then falls down, don't pick him up. Let him lay there and think about it.
    jsp16
    A7X has the talent to create mosh pits.....Jesus Christ and a cracker!
    latinromans
    Because obviously creating mosh pits is a feat that only the most masterful of metal musicians are capable of, sadly I have yet been unable to produce this miracle, but the other day you won't believe what happened!! I clapped on stage in time the music my bandmates where playing and other people started clapping as well!!! I think I got some serious talent when it comes to making audiences clap!
    Nero Galon
    I love how they studied mainly videos of pits instead of going into them for real
    Mr Winters
    I know right? It's like, why don't they get themselves into a spaceship and fly inside the sun instead of studying it from here with telescopes and shit?
    vIsIbleNoIsE
    they think they're so clever but it's just because circles let you move in a more continous fashion. which incidentally might be the case with gas particles too i dunno.
    latinromans
    The entire universe works on the principle that everything always takes the path of least resistance, this includes both gas particles and humans. So yah, I'm pretty sure it's the same case with gas particles. When everything in the entire universe moves according to the same rules your going to get quite a few coincidence's like this, well it's not really a coincidence when there both doing it for same reason but you get the idea.
    MrDo0m
    I must be the only one who actually finds this interesting... Stars are made of gas, everything we know comes from stars, people behave like what stars are made of when rocking out to loud music.
    AcousticMetal99
    Glad someone else thought this is actually interesting It at least has some value in terms of relating things, rather than, par example, the study suggesting dogs dislike loud, heavy, distorted music Scientists study lots of things, not everyone does the studies on cancer!
    GMPX
    Moshing and stage diving were cool back in the 80's, maybe in to the mid 90's, but surely it's time to move on to something new? Do punks from the 70's still pogo?
    TheExterminator
    No they don't, because most Punk bands today don't play music that fits with pogoing. Instead, they mosh like the rest of us, because the music fits. Metal music still fits with moshing, and so it still happens. Metal and what it's about isn't tied to a specific timeline, dude. That's why you'll still find most die-hard fans with long hair and leather jackets, even if the average fan constantly urges us to dumb the style down under the guise of "progress"
    Mkorn
    so what if someone decides to jack it in the pit instead of moving around, does that mean gases do the same thing ?
    DisarmGoliath
    What a load of crap, this is almost certainly a spoof article. 350BPM? Yeah, find me a large selection of popular songs at that tempo. 130dB? Well, there's limits imposed on even the largest gigs that are well below 130dB, and even the record for the loudest live performance ever was something like 132dB I believe (may have since changed) and that was for no more than a few minutes. ~124dB is the volume of a 747 taking off from a few feet away, for the record. Oh, and using YouTube videos of crappy mobile phone camera footage to support scientific theory? Yeah, gonna call BS on this one.
    AcousticMetal99
    And the difference between a YouTube video and a video which a scientist has gone to take? It saves time, money and effort. I think the dB and bpm values were wrong (obviously), but the general idea of loud, fast music still holds. How about you think beyond simply what you read?
    latinromans
    Well it's a lot better than if they tried to study it in a lab, god knows how they'd **** that one up. Also just because the numbers are off it doesn't mean the general concept is BS. It's pretty simple, people generally take the path of least resistance when traveling anywhere, so do gas particles, so it's not a stretch that we'd take a similar path through a chaotic situation with many collisions. This reminds me of the study where they set up a Japan shaped study area, put sugar where the cities would be, threw on a slime mold, and the slime mold formed a system that looked almost identical to the placement of japans rail lines.
    bustapr
    Here in Puerto Rico, theres always a group that stomps and flails their arms around at a gig. Ive seen my share of fights when one of the retards whacks an unsuspecting person in the face. dont know how it is anywhere else.
    lefty311
    I would love to know how much money they wasted with this "study".
    MrDo0m
    Probably not nearly as much as people are making it out to be. But that's science man, what many will consider to be a pointless observation could actually lead to some incredible discovery.
    will.d9
    Jesus Christ... Can't they do something useful instead?! They just keep trying to find ways to ruin things people love doing. Go cure cancer or something else worthwhile.
    AcousticMetal99
    They are blatantly not trying to ruin anything at all? They simply found a similarity between two apparently unrelated things... How is that ruining anything? Also, not every scientist wants to do chemistry (quite hard to cure cancer without those areas), or try to solve the Riemann hypothesis... Besides, most of what people do each day is hardly that useful, or going to lead to some kind of breakthrough. That's why the people who do are remembered. They can study what they like to! Different areas of science.
    Dude475
    What's the point of this? Of course people move in a circular direction in the pit. Seriously what's teh point?!!
    latinromans
    This is just a demonstration that certain patterns emerge due to the fundamental laws of the universe that are the same no matter what materials are involved or what scale your observing, in this case it's just showing that we as humans act essentially the way on a much larger scale as atoms do, This is essentially saying that there's virtually no difference in behavior between intelligent beings moving in a group and atoms bouncing off each other. It's like finding out relatively complex life process's such as predation, movement, and reproduction can be modeled using a computer program using only three rules and a couple million squares that light up (this was actually a real experiment, there where three conditions that controlled whether a square was lit up or not, and no matter how many times they ran it they always ran into lifelike patterns emerging and interacting in a myriad of ways that looked startling like basic process's that happen in real life) Studies like these show just how weirdly simple and predictably the universe can act even when dealing with mindbogglingly complex process's such as the actions of the human brain.
    henboyrules
    Well now I that I know that I exhibit the behavior of particles in a balloon I can finally sleep with a sound mind. Thank you UG for yet another completely pointless article.
    BigMikeBDD
    Moshing is stupid. I love metal and want to see the show..not have to worry about a group of idiots running around knocking people over.
    Samhuinn
    I completely agree; I've never once found it to be heightening the experience, you must be so on guard not to get elbowed in the face the music might've well have stopped.
    MrDo0m
    The worst are the burly dudes with tank tops and thug hats, who go into mosh pits for the sole purpose of trying to start fights. They'll push you over but the second you bump into them because someone else shoved you into them, suddenly they want to fight you.
    TheExterminator
    If you're going to a show where there's guys in tank tops and thug hats, you may need to start listening to better music. 95% of these "I HATE MOSH PITS THEY SUCK" instances could easily be solved by going to good shows instead of bad ones that attract the kind of losers who take moshing to those absurd and unnecessary levels.
    mitchy86
    "sure millions are dying from diseases every year but i'm going to dedicate my time to studying moshing."
    Blargaha
    Yes... Because physists, physcial chemists, and mathematicians are increadibly busy conducting medical and/or biological research. A linguist is a scientist as well, why don't you harangue them for caring about language when they "could be curing diseases" instead, while you're at it?
    Flying Afros
    Moshing allows relatively calm and quiet people who enjoy metal, like myself, to release pent up anger in a semi-constructive way. It's also mostly non-violent, at least in a good mosh, because everyone helps out the guy who gets knocked down.
    Mr Winters
    Sadly there's always one or two douchebags who only get in the mosh to be violent towards everyone.
    Mr Winters
    I went to a Dropkick Murphys + Frank turner show last week and it was crazy. People even did a freakin wall of death during Frank Turner's Photosynthesis.
    hudsonstradlin
    that's a stupid scientific method. they should have put position trackers on each individual in a moshpit to more accurately define patterns of movement. YouTube science is sloppy.
    latinromans
    Ever heard of triangulation? it's this brilliant method that involves looking at how things move relative to each other and uses that information figure out how much it moved. Don't worry if you haven't heard of it though, we've only using this method for the last 5 millenia or so.
    gorkyporky
    I don't know why everyone is banging on this. Sure, it's unnecesary, but i found this incredibly interesting. As for 350bpm, i think the song can be at 120bpm, but the drummer could be playing quarters with the double kick, and they just count those intead of the actual bpm of the song for the simulation conditions, since its easier.
    SchecterDean
    Back when I just got out of high school 10 years ago, Moshing was just pushing and bumping into each other, it was fun. Kids are kicking and throwing punches in moshpits now a days. Why?
    leony03
    This is the first thing that came to mind for some reason. I felt awful for laughing at this but...its just too funny!
    von gelb
    /Grandpa mode on/: Back in the 80's we used to call this a mosh pit (circle pit), so that was moshing for us. A step further was slamdancing, which is a lot more violent.
    dial-a-death
    I seem to be the only one unsurprised by this. Mosh pit = people bouncing off of each other, and then folling the same course until they bump into someone else. And if they run into the edge of the pit, they get pushed back into it. And, similarly enough, excited gas particles bum into each other and bounce off, following the same trajectory until they bump into something else. People don't really chose where they go in a pit.
    Lavatain
    Probably the poorest mosh pit I've ever seen. Was expecting some stupidly fast and heavy riff to come with the way it was built up by the vocalist, and they were all just running in a large circle, some hardcore dancing.
    hec_exe
    And these studies lead us to believe that most of the people who enjoy these shows are mostly aggresive and some of them are angry, mystery solved!
    trently13
    False!!! if they were aggressive then no one would take the time to help anyone who falls in the pit, its just metal fun and people that believe that theyre aggressive like you dont deserve to be apart of the fun.
    Guitarguy495
    You.. Are a close-minded *****. it's just a fun article and i thought it was pretty funny to read.