Summary of How Fluid Dynamics Can Help You Navigate Crowds

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How Fluid Dynamics Can Help You Navigate Crowds summary
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When dance music fans from all over the world congregated in Duisburg, Germany, on July 24, 2010, to celebrate the popular Love Parade, it was the first time the festival took place in a closed-off area. When people streamed through a narrow access road, a panic ensued. As people frantically tried to escape the crowd, 21 died and more than 500 suffered injuries. Writing for Smithsonian magazine, science writer Evelyn Lamb describes how scientists study crowds and explains how event organizers and participants can prevent disaster. getAbstract recommends Lamb’s insightful analysis to people who expect to find themselves in a crowd.

About the Author

Evelyn Lamb is a freelance science writer for publications such as Smithsonian magazine and Scientific American.



From an aerial perspective, a large congregation of people resembles a pool of liquid in motion. In fact, scientists garner insights about crowds using the methods they employ to research fluid and particle dynamics. Of course, people differ from particles – particles don’t care where they are heading – but researchers can predict, for example, how pedestrians will behave in certain situations. Crowds of walking people will likely “self-organize”: People will automatically cluster with others facing the same direction, effectively forming “lanes.” Similarly, people normally cross one another’s path...

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