Seriously, how irritating is it when traffic inexplicably comes to a grinding halt for no apparent reason before starting right back up with no trace of a cause? Not only are these so-called phantom traffic jams the bane of many a commuter's existence, they also waste gas and therefore increase vehicle emissions. Mathematicians from MIT are reportedly studying these phantom traffic jams with an eye toward figuring out how to prevent them in the future.
Of course, there's little that can be done in a timely fashion about the sheer number of cars on the roads, but MIT researchers believe that computer modeling could help them come up with a solution. "We wanted to describe this using a mathematical model similar to that of fluid flow," says Aslan Kasimov, a lecturer in MIT's Department of Mathematics.
MIT's models may lead to the formation of highways with extra lanes where these phantom traffic jams are likely to form. We can only hope. Click past the break for two short videos explaining how these jams can form.