Now that football season is here and we’re also looking forward to the World Series, scientists from the University of Budapest decided to figure out how many people are needed to produce The Wave?that undulating up-and-down motion that moves across entire stadiums. They studied video tapes of the 1986 World Cup in soccer and built a mathematical model to describe how The Wave works. Tamas Vicsek and his colleagues discovered that at least 30 people are necessary to get a Wave started and Waves are more likely to work during calm times, when spectators aren’t overexcited.

Vicsek borrowed and adapted mathematical models that are already used to map forest fires and the beating of the heart. His team examined 14 Waves in stadiums containing at least 50,000 people. ?(The Wave) is generated by no more than a few dozen people standing up simultaneously and subsequently expands through the entire crowd as it acquires a stable, near-linear shape,” he says. Their research also found that The Wave usually rolls in a clockwise direction around the stadium and typically moves at a speed of about 20 seats per second, with an average width of about 15 seats.

So pick a lull in the game and check around to see if you?re surrounded by what look like 30 cooperative fans?then start The Wave.

Wonder what?s in those peanuts and hot dogs you?re eating? Check it out?you may be surprised. Read ?Eating in the Dark? by Kathleen Hart?, click here.

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