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Hopping Concertgoers Unleash Good Vibrations for Science

Some 50,000 fans at a giant German music festival managed to rock their world -- and that of everyone in a one-kilometer radius -- by jumping up and down rhythmically.

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The hardest part was getting a simultaneous hop, experimenters said

As if surviving three days of nonstop partying and taking in shows by Linkin Park, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Megadeth weren’t enough, fans at Germany’s massive "Rock at the Ring" open-air music festival were asked to hop up and down simultaneously, to see what seismic effect so much energy would have on the ground.

Not a word, though, on the effect the "gang boing" might have had on the concertgoers, who may or may not have had a bellyful of beer before the jumping began.

BdT Kurnstturnen WM in Aarhus Dänemark

They first tried the experiment with a gymnast

In the end, the hoppers created "a mini-mini-earthquake," according to Ulrich Grünewald, who produced the segment for a science program on German television. The ground moved one-twentieth of a millimeter, with four oscillations per second. Scientists from Germany’s Geological Research Institute measured movement up to a kilometer away.

The China question

According to Grünewald, the idea came about when some of the show’s creators began mulling the perennial question, "What would happen if all 1.3 billion Chinese jumped off the ground at the same time?"

"We showed that people cannot start a (real) earthquake by hopping," Grünewald told the dpa news service. An actual earthquake would contain billions of times more energy than the jumping Germans produced.

Australien: Känguruh Känguruh, aufgenommen 1999.

If 50,000 kangaroos hopped, would it cause an earthquake in Australia?

"The hardest thing was to get the hopping synchronized," Grünewald noted.

The experiment, at the annual open-air music festival held at Germany's Nürburgring raceway, was the culmination of a series.

Previously, the scientists had used smaller control groups and multiplied the results. First they measured how many oscillations were produced by a gymnast doing a back-handspring and a flip. Then, 47 soccer players were made to bounce on their cleats.

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