Chinese artist Qiu Zhijie took the average game of dominos and transformed it into an artistic and scientific creation. The Small Knocking Down the Big is an installation in which the artist arranged wooden blocks into the shape of a tree, with a thick trunk and many delicate branches. Starting with the smallest blocks, which are the size of matchbooks, the series of branches grow larger and larger until ultimately ending with the final block, located at the base of the installation’s ‘trunk,’ which is a little more than 3 feet tall, 20 inches wide, and just about 8 inches thick.
The artist explains on his website: “The physical principle of the Domino effect is that when one block falls, its thrust forward is greater than that of the earlier block. As a result, if the blocks are identical in size, their speed will accelerate. In other words, the force of the forward push will increase. However, if the pieces vary in size, then one block, on falling, may knock down another block that is 1.5 times the size of the previous one.”
This theory is demonstrated in Zhijie’s installation, where audiences are invited to push down the first dominos at the tips of the ‘branches,’ and watch how the force of a tiny rectangle leads to the final thump of the 3-foot wooden block at the base of the tree.