Latest Issue of Science News

4/18 Cover

News

Virtual stampede sees faces in crowd

By
3:36pm, September 12, 2003

How can you stop a panicked crowd from stampeding? A team of physicists has developed an unusual computer model to make some suggestions.

While other models of crowd behavior typically treat a group as a homogeneous fluid, this new simulation views each person as an individual particle. It assumes that these people-particles vary in their willingness to follow others, and it includes the pushing and rubbing forces that can generate pressures strong enough to bend steel barriers.

It's a "dramatically different and potentially far more realistic modeling approach," says civil engineer David J. Low of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh in a commentary on the report, both of which appear in the Sept. 28 Nature.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.

More from Science News