Did it ever occurred to you that one particular idea or technology which is pretty concrete and utilitarian can suddenly reveal unexpected and beautiful applications? Sometimes one even would not think that any technology should be applied at all. This is what really amazes me about computing and will never our profession completely mechanistic. Through ACM TechNews I've read article Virtual Extras. It subtitle did not promise anything "extra" at all. Just serious advances in development of animated mob scenes:
Giving each member of a digital crowd its own personality could make animated mob scenes more realistic.
But when you read further you come across
... software even manages to capture the way in which two crowds of people, moving through a narrow corridor, naturally form two opposing lanes.
With this things start getting interesting. And finally you get
Beyond movies and games, there's increasing interest in using crowd simulation to help conduct fire and disaster assessments of large public spaces...
Isn't it amazing that purely entertaining-targeted research suddenly finds such non-trivial application. Do you feel the same after reading the article?