The Science Behind The Mosh Pit

anti-flag_circle_pitHave you ever wondered why they rotate in a counterclockwise fashion?  Have you ever wondered why they spontaneously ignite with certain musical patterns? Do you believe circle pits are random?  The answer is rather scientific.

Meghan Holohan of (2013) reported that people in mosh pits follow the “rules of collective motion.” If you don’t understand what that means, think of a murmuration…movements you see with a flock of birds.  It’s orderly and coordinated unlike what you might see with an unpredictable mosh pit or with bouncing gas particles.  An experiment ensued that basically revealed that circle pits collectively coordinate without a conductor.  It just happens.  Those who want to enter the pit are attracted to it while those who aren’t form the outer ring like a container.  It’s all very methodical albeit semi-violent at times.

As metalheads I think we all know that, but would never think to tie to it to some kind of science.  It was an interesting study to read and is currently awaiting publication.  So, there is more to the story than what was presented in this article.  I hope to find it someday and read more in-depth.

I used to visit the mosh pit regularly when I was more youthful.  I did find that there were two kinds of mosh pits, for which I preferred the orderly circle pits.  Today, you are likely to find me on the outskirts or even up in a seat enjoying the show from a comfortable distance.

This basis for this post was retrieved Feb 21, 2013 from this site.

This is a colossal circle pit

Here is a murmuration

About Reggie

Just a dude writing a heavy metal blog and always on the prowl for a cool metal show. I am also a family man...first and foremost!

Posted on February 22, 2013, in Ramblings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Melody of the Soul

    Reblogged this on melodyofthesoul.

  2. It’s a very fascinating subject, I had no idea there could be something scientific about this. What a cool video with the murmuration, it looks so weird, almost unreal.

    Seeing people move to music is something I’ve always liked, and always want to do myself (but something is stopping me). It’s such a nice expression of what the music make you feel and that it moves you so much you just can’t stand still. It’s liberating in a way. Maybe because it’s not really allowed to express yourself in that way openly in our socitety. If you want to do it, you “have to” go to concerts or a dancing class. Or do it at home where noone can see you and think you’ve gone insane.

    I never enter moshpits but I’m very small and short, and afraid I’ll get hurt, which I have been once too. But I want to! 🙂

    • I would probably fit in well in Sweden. I am a mostly nonexpressive kind of person, but as a teen and young adult I regularly entered the pit and it was such a release. I dont need that anymore, but if you find a circle pit that’s just right, jump in. I recommend having your boyfriend or friend with you in case things get out of hand. Mostly, circle pits are pushing/shoving. Serious pits like the one I saw recently in Denver…a lot of dudes were falling on the floor all over themselves. You dont want that.

  3. This was turbo interesting. I never looked at a circle pit like that before. I find it amazing how science and inner-energy can co-exist like that. And that video of the birds, simply just wow, it reinforces why I love nature so much.

  4. Oskar Moilanen

    The simple reason why the circle pit runs counterclockwise is that the majority of people are right-handed, thus prefer to run with their strongest foot facing outwards. It’s the same if you try iceskating or rollerblading, right-handed people most often prefer turning left. It’s a very interesting article. But all mosh pits are certainly not uncoordinated, there are often ‘dedicated’ people in the pit that are coordinating circles and walls together.

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