Skip to content
Starts With A Bang

Weekend Diversion: Best Domino Runs in the World

From simple physics to amazing feats

“I call it like the domino theory of reality. If you can go one step at a time and it seems to make sense, you can then take your audience into an area that is relatively outlandish.” –Ivan Reitman

There’s something inimitable about taking something incredibly simple, repeating it with just a slight variation, and winding up with something beautiful, artistic and novel that’s never been seen before. That’s the way certain pieces of music work, as the Pet Shop Boys might sing you from all those years ago, in their one-time hit, Domino Dancing.

But it’s the actual dominoes that I want to showcase for you this weekend.

Image credit: © Copyright 2011, | Jill Hart, via

If we break it down to its simplest physical terms, an upright domino is simply a structure with a narrow base and its center-of-mass located halfway up to the top. If you want to make that domino fall over, all you have to do is nudge its center of mass beyond the edge of its base, and inevitably, down it goes.

If you’re willing to knock the very first domino over yourself, you can achieve quite a chain reaction!

So with the simple physics of this in mind, I want you to think of all the possible tricks you can do by cleverly setting up rows and patterns of dominoes.

Did you think of some fun ones? Okay, good. Now, prepare to be blown away by what some true domino artists are up to!

YouTube Users Hevesh5 and MillionenDollarBoy teamed up to create this amazing showcase involving dominoes and many other props. I really like this video because it truly showcases so many domino tricks, including inward and outward spirals, changing directions, cascading domino walls and a few intricate art projects that reveal themselves when toppled.

In fact, Hevesh5 has just achieved 200,000 subscribers on YouTube, and published a 22,000 domino special to celebrate the occasion.

Another great illustration of what dominoes can do — and what other objects can do under the same domino principles — when you understand center of mass, momentum transfer, and exercise a little care and patience, is extremely well-demonstrated by ShanesDominoez’s video, below.

When it comes to dominoes, some people go for the world records of “longest” or “most dominoes” or something else in a category like that. I can only imagine the tedium you have to go through if your goal is to break one of those records, such as this 30,000 domino spiral (a then-record) that takes nearly 10 minutes to fall.

Or this one, of the largest and longest domino wall ever constructed. If you remembered from the first video the pattern of how domino walls are built (and how they fall), you’ll see something awfully familiar. It’s also nice to see that this was really a team effort!

But what I genuinely enjoy is how some people — like Max, whose video is below — really get into the creative aspects of what they can create, artistically, using toppling dominoes as a medium of expression.

From 1998-2009, there was apparently an annual convention, competition and show in the Netherlands known as Domino Day, where they’d attempt to set all sorts of world’s records, but would also showcase some amazing artwork, the likes of which I’d never seen elsewhere.

Take a look at this 62,940-domino project known as the Celtic Forest from Domino Day 2006.

More recently, Sinners Domino Entertainment in Germany has put together some amazing domino shows, where last year they toppled a spectacular 275,000 dominoes in one single run! (Highlights in the video below.)

Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

Finally, for those of you who want to see what a full “Domino Day” consisted of, complete with various builder’s challenges and some of the best entries, I was able to track down a video of the full (~90 minute) broadcast of the Netherlands’ final Domino Day from 2009.

Travel the Universe with astrophysicist Ethan Siegel. Subscribers will get the newsletter every Saturday. All aboard!

Don’t worry if you don’t speak/understand Dutch; I promise you don’t need it!

I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for people who put this much time and effort into creating something this intricate and transient, for just a few moments of domino-rific glory, and if you’ve got a favorite domino show that we haven’t included here, be sure to recommend it as further reading at the bottom. In the meantime, have a great weekend, or a great and enjoyable time whenever you get to watch!

Have a comment? Leave it at the Starts With A Bang forum on Scienceblogs! And if you missed our Comments of the Week, don’t forget to check those out, too.


Up Next