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Fantastic pedal power social dynamics in the BBC’s powering-a-house experiment

I love how the pedalers get grossed out as they see the father of the house preparing to take a shower. It’s always cool when you can let the pedalers get the best seat in the house at a music event or let them in on a secret.  At Rock The Bike’s Pedal Powered Stage events, we serve up smoothies to the pedalers, bike blended of course. We’re thinking of putting the pedalers on a raised stage and lighting them at our Feb. 5th event.

The other moment that’s just classic about this video is when people continue running into the room to add more power and bring the system voltage back to the green. At first, they’re wearing the nice uniform: red jersey and cycling shorts. But as the system voltage continues to get clobbered by the energy hogging electric shower, the producers themselves run into the room wearing street clothes.

And you gotta love the cheering from the crowd when they successfully bring the voltage back from the brink.

A hot shower is, of course, one of the hardest things you can possibly pedal power. Apparently it takes 70 people to do so, (approximately 6000 watts!) Music is just the opposite. 1 person pedaling can get generate about 50-80 PDW (people dancing wildly), reminiscent of how an ant can carry 50 times its own weight in food.

Why is music so efficient? Is it just a coincidence that pedal powering music is easier than pedal powering lighting (even LED lighting), projecting a movie, or cranking out a smoothie, in terms of the number of people who can enjoy one person’s effort?

I think not. Think back to the ancient roots of music: drumming in the Savannah of Africa or the plains of North America that would bring people from a wide distance to gather at the fire. Music and dancing may be a cosmic gift of our evolution, a tool for humans to form communities, and therefore better band together, meet challenges, and fight external threats. This is the theory put forward by Barbara Ehrenreich in her book “Dancing In The Streets: A History of Collective Joy”