Fun with DominoesRead Now
The domino tumble is a great example of the conversion of potential energy into kinetic energy (energy of movement) and the internet is filled with videos of elaborate domino tumbles involving thousands of dominoes such as the one below.
Less well known variants of the domino tumble are the double domino and domino amplification effects.
The double domino effect occurs when the regular forward wave of toppling dominoes is followed by a second wave in the opposite direction. This occurs because the first wave leaves the dominoes lying partly on top of each other with some of their potential energy still intact. When the terminal domino falls to the ground, it fails to provide the support needed for the domino immediately before it which falls to the ground too followed by the next one and so on. The process and the math involved are explained in the video below by Matt Parker from standupmaths.
The domino amplification effect is a far more interesting for me because with a tiny input energy you can release a huge amount of energy in a process that is somewhat similar to a chain reaction. This is possible because a domino can topple over another domino that is 1.5 times larger. Thus by placing dominoes of increasing size one after the other you can topple a gigantic domino using a much smaller one achieving amplifications factors in the billions. The process and the physics involved are explained in the video below.
The domino amplification effect was featured in an episode of Mythbusters shown in the video below.
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