Mosh Pit Science

Science never got so rowdy

So it would seem that there’s some science behind mosh pits. And by that I mean beyond the basic biology of you getting a bruise from that big guy’s flailing fist.

Physicists at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York found that on tracking the motions of moshers in a pit that their movements were similar to that of atoms in a gas. Essentially both move around freely, interacting only when they bounce off each other. To investigate this behaviour the team simulated a mosh pit with a couple of ground rules, although the golden one – ‘if someone falls pick them up’ doesn’t seem to apply here. I guess those gas particles just trample one another in such an instance.

Anyway if you feel like conducting your own mosh pit you can have a go at the online simulation – http://mattbierbaum.github.com/moshpits.js/ Just don’t come crying to me if someone elbows your virtual guy in the face.

Whilst the experiment was predominately for fun, the scientists are talking about applications in disaster planning and helping architects design buildings to ease crowd flows in an emergency. Ah heavy metal – advancing science since… well since it became a backdrop to my revision at high school.

For me though what I would like to come out of this is a mandatory ‘Mosh Pit Science’ weekly TV segment complete with rotating rockstar host – “This week’s guest professor is Mr Rob Halford…” – yep that’ll do nicely. Essentially it’d be Brainiac for metalheads, because if you can draw conclusions about disaster planning from a mosh pit there must be a load more things you can test.

Certainly it’d be a good place to test material durability, or the straps on a new extreme survival backpack. Forget mountains or deserts, if it can last a full set’s worth of mosh pit then it can live through almost anything.

Or what about finding out how long it takes a can of coke to explode when tossed into a wildly flailing crowd, or whether it’s possible to demolish a wall by the power of mosh pit alone. We could measure the force generated by a standard pit and compare it to that of an engine, a bomb, and a falling apple, or investigate the impact of music on pain thresholds. (Actually that last one sounds sort of genuine).

And these are just the ideas I came up with in the last five minutes over a slice of toast, so science should be able to do even better. After all they put a man on the moon, and a toilet in every home.

Mosh pits and metal have so much more to offer the world. Give us a grant to put on a show and we’ll get science into a band t-shirt and in the pit before you can say ‘E=MC ouch’.

For more of the science – http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729055.700-mosh-pit-physics-could-aid-disaster-planning.html

 

Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs

Freelance writer. Most likely found in a mosh pit. Or maybe Bat Country.

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