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Feynman would study what interested him. We got some valuable work because he happened to wonder why X does Z.

So long as the work is rigorous there's nothing wrong with studying collective motion of moshers at heavy metal concerts.

Agreed... my initial reaction to this was "maybe this will explain that Slipknot concert!"

It doesn't have to be world-changing or life-saving to be interesting (though those things certainly don't hurt... usually).

To me it looks like it's ridiculing science papers.. 4 students writing 2 and a half pages about "MASHers", with a bunch of youtube links as source material. Yeah, science! The fact that the story is prominently posted by dailymail filed under "sciencetech" is ridiculous as well.

Call me when you find stadiums build on Jesse Silverbergs great principle of MASHers, that save so many lives.

To me it's a shame that this appears publicly posted on a universities site. I suppose that, for this to happen, a Professor must have agreed and supported this paper.. ugh.

P.S.: I do understand very well that simulation of crowds, especially in buildings, is very important but i feel that this is making fun of serious scientists putting real effort into such work.

Point taken. I should have paid more attention, I did not realize this was being passed off as something like that.

It would certainly be interesting to hear Feynmans opinion of a 2 page "science" paper about drunken heavy metal fans smashing their heads together :P

Well, he would have stopped the bongos and asked the stripper to get him another drink and then read the "paper", asked a question or two that made the authors realise just how much stuff they'd missed, and a few days later he'd have solved the unseen hidden deep really interesting problem that the authors weren't even aware of.

He'd probably be amazed that such research and simulation could be done by just a four man team on a low budget. Maybe wonder how some entry level researchers got access to expensive computing time.

After that he might think about what similarities there are between moshpits and high energy particles in a nuclear fusion kind of environment, and if that could be simulated in the same manner.

Feynman always seemed to enjoy doing physics for fun and not just because it was necessary to advance science or anything like that. A classic example is his spinning plates story [1].

[1] http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~kilcup/262/feynman.html

Yet, he didn't write a scientific paper about what he considered "just playing around". Same as i wouldn't write a paper about writing "hello world" in visual basic. Yet, i could become a world famous programmer, scientist and then write a paper about whatever started with learning how to program. There is a big difference here.

Feynman worked on the plates problem just for his own, he didn't intent to publish a paper on "how does a sign on a plate look when the plate wobbles" and certainly he didn't expect people to tell him how important his scientific research on plates could be for the world :P

Or, to put it another way: I wouldn't find the paper ridiculous if it would just be a Javascript on github by a guy who finds it interesting how people move in a rock concert.

In fact, it's not even a realistic simulation. I think you may agree when you have ever been at a heavy metal concert.

Don't get me wrong, I partly agree with your stand. My problem is that is hard to dismiss something just on the basis of "it is not science since is not useful", because is almost impossible to draw a dividing line. Many useful discoveries were the product of people just "fooling" around and I believe that this attitude should be encouraged in science. Yeah, you will always have those guys who go and analyze how people slam into each other in rock concerts, but they are just outliers, most people out there are producing research that has some kind of usefulness.

Not sure what your problem is, but I've been in my share of mosh pits, and I've never done it with a drop of alcohol in my blood, nor have I ever smashed my head into someone else's. It's mostly shoulders and backs and the occasional elbow.

The first thing he would probably learn is that it's not just heavy metal fans, and that they aren't "smashing their heads together."

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