Human waves in stadiums

I. Farkas, D. Helbing, T. Vicsek

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article

16 Citations (Scopus)


Mexican wave first widely broadcasted during the 1986 World Cup held in Mexico, is a human wave moving along the stands of stadiums as one section of spectators stands up, arms lifting, then sits down as the next section does the same. Here we use variants of models originally developed for the description of excitable media to demonstrate that this collective human behaviour can be quantitatively interpreted by methods of statistical physics. Adequate modelling of reactions to triggering attempts provides a deeper insight into the mechanisms by which a crowd can be stimulated to execute a particular pattern of behaviour and represents a possible tool of control during events involving excited groups of people. Interactive simulations, video recordings and further images are available at the webpage dedicated to this work:

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-24
Number of pages7
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2003
EventRandomes and Complexity - Eilat, Israel
Duration: Jan 5 2003Jan 9 2003



  • Collective motion
  • Excitable media
  • Human behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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