The domino effect—a cascade, a chain reaction, the propagating consequence of cause and effect—is a familiar metaphor, invoked when people want to convey that an action will have far-reaching effects. As it is usually envisioned, “the domino effect” is a series of similar-sized blocks tumbling down in turn. But in a 1983 study, University of British Columbia physicist Lorne Whitehead demonstrated the true power of the domino effect. As showcased by University of Toronto professor Stephen Morris, dominoes can actually knock down things about one-and-a-half times their size. Starting from a domino just five millimeters tall, says Morris, it would take just 29 progressively-larger dominoes to wipe out the Empire State Building.
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