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Pressure Waves happen when people stamp on their brake pedals. The breaking causes people behind to break, and so on in a chain reaction or domino effect. See windscreen washer domino effect. The effect has been studied by physicists, who liken the effect to pressure pulses in a liquid. Observations have shown that these waves of braking travel back for miles along motorways (freeways). Drivers will experience a traffic jam for no discernable reason, which will end just as quickly as it seemed to start.

The difference is, though, that when in a confined space, under pressure liquid will move faster. Traffic, on the other hand, slows down. Does this mean that it is viscous? Automated Traffic Control Systems might be able to make the traffic work more like a fluid, and thereby reduce traffic jams?

Perhaps the induced bahviour of a passing pressure wave is analogous to a meme passing though a group of people?


We crest a ridge and see the road give way
to traffic stopped until it meets the sky
We'd been en route since early in the day
but now we might not make it if we try

We drum the dashboard, roll the windows down
...and up, and down, until our elbows ache
We didn't know how far it was to town
but thought we'd rather jump into a lake

and wait until the road had given in
and swallowed all the idling engines whole
along with dust, and sun-loosed tar and skin
instead of eating quarters at the toll

But since we wouldn't pass a pond for hours
we point our instamatics at the flowers

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