took to world record-breaking in
2004 after being inspired by a record-setting rally
driver in Kenya. What began as a hobby soon escalated
into an active publicity pursuit. Today, he promotes the
work of social and environmental causes. For these
purposes, the most fitting game plans are chosen; then
world titles are attempted and frequently created.
Wall Street Journal:
Shaking On It in Times Square
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Behind every world record attempt is the expertise of professionals in their field.
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Most dominoes toppled in 30 seconds: 30
This is the story behind my Guinness World Record™ for the Most dominoes toppled in 30 seconds.
Toppling dominoes might be a popular thing to do, but I’m
not so sure how keen you’d be under the pressure of a stopwatch. I tried my hand
at this, knowing my speed at standing up the dominoes and then knocking over the
line would be directly affected by many of my own personal attributes. For
instance, my hand-eye coordination, peripheral vision, and how quickly my
fingers sweat would all impact on the tally I could achieve.
Nevertheless, I borrowed a box of heavy dominoes from a
family nearby and got to practising. First I had to stand the dominoes upright
within 30 seconds, and then topple them all. Having cleared my office desk for
yet another world record attempt, I made sure nobody would disturb me and I
flopped into my swivel chair.
always, I’d brought out my timer, and placed it where I could easily see the
digital screen. As the timer ticked over to the 30-second mark, my hand lunged
forward to pick up the first domino. I’d laid a few dozen out in front of me and
my fingers struck the first one with such force, it shot right off the far end
of the table. Other dominoes scattered across the surface too. This meant there
was no point in continuing because my cycle time had been disrupted – I’d lost a
second or so and would not be able to make up for it. I had to start over again.
As fast as possible, I positioned domino after domino just
millimetres apart, each on end. I had to retry many times because sweat on my
fingertips kept sticking to some dominoes but finally I got it right. The
snaking line of upright dominoes then lay across the table top before me. It
felt good to see what I’d done.
But that feeling didn’t last long. The next step in this
world record attempt was to strike one domino and watch every other one fall
over. With a gentle touch, I set the right hand-most domino off-balance and the
rest followed, clicking softly in quick succession as they each touched the one
alongside and fell. Very fast, the upright domino snake had become a fallen one.
And that’s precisely what I wanted to see: one flick of a domino and the entire
line down. Nice.
Although not so nice when I began thinking of what I’d
caused to happen – with one gentle touch, I had collapsed every one of the
standing dominoes. My thoughts ran wild. What if that line of upright dominoes
had represented things people need to live, like clean water, unpolluted air,
nuclear-free neighbourhoods, pesticide-free farm produce and communities which
are acutely aware of their place in nature? What if each domino was a part of an
ecosystem, tightly connected to the one next to it, just like coastal fish
stocks and estuaries? If I could collapse the lot by simply disturbing one
domino, it’s logical that modern societies could
knock over a whole lot of ecological systems which we rely on for life
unless we look into the mess we’re creating! Wow. What a worrying thought that
Thank goodness I only did that to dominoes, which I could
collect and reassemble just the way I want them. That won’t be possible if we
damage the earth’s life-giving systems, though. Anyhow, although I’m
concerned about sustainability, I also need to keep attempting world
records, and in this case, that meant toppling dominoes.
I was happy with my record attempt, and submitted it to
the judges. Before long, I heard back – it was positive news. I’d landed myself
yet another world record. Awesome! This was theoretically such a simple thing to
achieve, yet it took an hour of dedicated practise. What’s more, it happens to
be a really good example of how ecological collapse could occur. What a cool
world record, wouldn’t you agree?.