TLDR: in 1983, a physicist described how a single domino can knock over another domain that is 1.5x larger than itself. By domino 23, a tiny starting domino would have the generated enough momentum to knock down a domino the size of The Eiffel Tower. What does this tell us about small changes? Where could small changes to how we care for the environment or our emissions or the way we build societies lead us? Perhaps to a sustainable future.

Make BIG changes by starting a tiny push

Let’s talk about physics and how one small action (yours) can end up making a significant difference (for yourself or the world).

Thirty years ago, Lorne Whitehead (1983, American Journal of Physics, Vol. 51, page 182) wrote about dominoes. Yes, dominoes. He suggested that these simple playthings could not only topple each other and described how a single domino can knock over another domain that is 1.5x larger than itself.

It’s a chain reaction that starts with a tiny push, and that, over time and with momentum can knock down an impressively large domino. In the book “The One Thing” by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan, a single tiny domino could be the catalyst that topples a domino the size of the Leaning Tower of Pisa (domino 18), or one the size of The Eiffel Tower (domino 23), or one the size of Mount Everest (domino 57).

If you’re skeptical, take a look at this video by physicist Professor Stephen W. Morris as he puts this idea to the test:

What if YOU are that domino? What if one simple push— to tackle the climate crisis or bring about positive change—could make the status quo quiver and topple and be one of the ingredients that we need to build a sustainable future?

This applies to individuals, as well as communities and organisations.  Not all major change is instigated by “the big guys” and not all changes have to be BIG to make a difference.

What do you think?

This post originally appeared in Whitby’s Sustainability blog.