The Wonderful World of Active Many-Particle Systems

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Abstract

Since the subject of traffic dynamics has captured the interest of physicists, many astonishing effects have been revealed and explained. Some of the questions now understood are the following: Why are vehicles sometimes stopped by so-called “phantom traffic jams”, although they all like to drive fast? What are the mechanisms behind stop-and-go traffic? Why are there several different kinds of congestion, and how are they related? Why do most traffic jams occur considerably before the road capacity is reached? Can a temporary reduction of the traffic volume cause a lasting traffic jam? Why do pedestrians moving in opposite directions normally organize in lanes, while nervous crowds are “freezing by heating”? Why do panicking pedestrians produce dangerous deadlocks? All these questions have been answered by applying and extending methods from statistical physics and non-linear dynamics to self-driven many-particle systems.