One of the great avenues for exploring the barely contained exuberance, rage, joy, and other bundled-up emotions let loose by a particularly great song is the mosh pit. A primal expression for concert attendees, moshing finds people slamming into one another but also helping each other along, to ensure no one is too hurt while forming its own little tribe of controlled chaos. This most human of outlets would be perfectly suited for a physics-based computer model.
The “Moshpits Simulation” allows users to change certain elements and settings to produce mosh pits of various sizes, intensities, and dispersals. By altering factors like the speed of the inner vortex (circle pit) and the strength of the outer circle (the mosh pit proper), users can create drastically different scenarios that are hypnotic in their dynamic motion. The simulator is based on an actual academic paper, “Collective of Moshers at Heavy Metal Concerts,” written by Jesse Silverberg, Matthew Bierbaum, James Sethna, and Itai Cohen for Cornell University. According to the abstract of the study,
Human collective behavior can vary from calm to panicked depending on social context. Using videos publicly available online, we study the highly energized collective motion of attendees at heavy metal concerts. We find these extreme social gatherings generate similarly extreme behaviors: a disordered gas-like state called a mosh pit and an ordered vortex-like state called a circle pit. Both phenomena are reproduced in flocking simulations demonstrating that human collective behavior is consistent with the predictions of simplified models.
Users can learn more about the material used to collect this data, along with how the team created their model, by visiting Cohen’s group website. Or, if you’d rather watch a bunch of black and red dots smash into each other like frenetic bouncey balls while listening to Slayer on an iPod, then simply head over to the simulator and craft the perfect mosh pit.