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Ghost Jams

You know those strange traffic jams that appear to come out of nowhere, with nothing causing them, and then suddenly end? As Wired reports, a team of M.I.T. mathematicians calls them “phantom jams” or “jamitons,” and has found mathematical equations to describe them, similar to those that describe detonation waves from explosions. Phantom jams, the mathematicians found, can form when a single driver slows down (to take a sip of coffee or talk on the phone) on a road with too many cars on it. They hope the new equations will lead to roads engineered to keep traffic below the density where a jamiton can form. [%comments]