Too Much Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Published in Science, 10 Aug 2012

Anyone who attended the Bruce Springsteen concert at Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1985 will recall more than just good vibrations. During the star’s closing numbers, fans rocked the arena so hard that it needed millions of dollars’ worth of repairs. Now, engineers think they can estimate the impact of crowds in such situations—a method that could make stadiums, bridges, and other civil structures far more secure.

The forces of crowds on civil structures—known as crowd-induced loads—are a serious problem for designers. If loads get too high, a structure can visibly deform. Although the risk of collapse is usually small, people can panic and, in the worst cases, stampede. […]

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