The Domino Effect – A Colorful Demo of a powerful mechanical phenomena that could topple a skyscraper!

A domino effect as demonstrated in the video above is produced when a linked series of events successively create a mechanical impact on the next item in the sequence to produce a chain reaction.

Do not underestimate them as some harmless fun! Physicist Van Leeuwen has even presented a calculation to explore if a sequence of dominoes can topple a skyscraper-sized block at http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.0615.

Each falling domino leads the force of gravity converting the potential energy of the domino into enough kinetic energy to topple a domino larger than itself. This can create a dramatically powerful effect!

Sean Treacy reported here on insidescience.org about how the Dutch National Science Quiz TV Show that asked how many dominoes it would take to topple a domino the size of the 112-meter-tall Domtoren — the tallest church tower in the Netherlands – and Physicist van Leeuwen took up the challenge.

Van Leeuwen calculated that an ideal domino could knock over a domino twice as tall, wide, and thick as itself — a growth factor of about 2 — so long as the dominoes were hollow. That is, it would take about 20 solid dominoes with a growth factor of 1.5 to knock over a domino the size of the Domtoren, but hollow dominoes that avoid friction could knock over a tower-sized brick in merely 12 steps.

To test van Leeuwen’s math, the Quiz show people built a series of hollow, wooden dominoes, each five-thirds the size of the last, a growth factor of 1.67, the largest of them weighing half-ton. When they tried it, the 26-footer at the end came tumbling down exactly as expected, all from initially knocking over a domino of normal size.

Van Leeuwen said that knocking over an actual tower or skyscraper is not really plausible. It would require dominos that are solid instead of hollow, and a solid 112-meter domino would weigh 80,000 tons. There’s no crane imaginable that could lift that kind of weight, he said.

The report further quoted physicist Michael Johnson:

Questions like this help inspire people to become mathematicians and scientists. People who do mathematics and do science have to stay inquisitive. There’s kind of a playfulness in that.

We, at FunVidya, agree!

See the full Inside Science Report here.
Domino FunVidya

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