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Domino Power Transference – from 5mm to 1m Using 13 Dominoes

Stephen Morris explains how a small, 5mm tall domino can eventually topple over a 1m tall domino by scaling up, in this case over the course of 13 dominoes. Whatever material those dominoes are made from they make a nice sound too! (And kudos for the NYC Empire State Building reference as well!)

A domino can knock over another domino about 1.5x larger than itself. A chain of dominos of increasing size makes a kind of mechanical chain reaction that starts with a tiny push and knocks down an impressively large domino.

Original idea by Lorne Whitehead, American Journal of Physics, Vol. 51, page 182 (1983).

See
http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0401018 and
http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.0615
for sophisticated discussions of the physics.

The conditions are investigated under which a row of increasing dominoes is able to keep tumbling over. The analysis is restricted to the simplest case of frictionless dominoes that only can topple not slide. The model is scale invariant, i.e. dominoes and distance grow in size at a fixed rate, while keeping the aspect ratios of the dominoes constant. The maximal growth rate for which a domino effect exist is determined as a function of the mutual separation.


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