What is a chain reaction? What are the physics behind a chain reaction?
Everyone has seen one: A long chain of dominoes falling one by one after the first one tips over.
These different sequences of reactions are called a chain reaction.
Chain reactions are processes in which the energy of a previous action (such as the first domino falling) releases a force that moves subsequent objects (such as the second domino).
Every chain reaction has to have starting momentum to initiate the following physical reactions, which continue to transmit the energy.
When a starting force triggers subsequent forces, setting the chain reaction in motion, this is also called a domino effect.
In physics, we speak of potential energy. This term describes the ability of an object to carry out mechanical work, for instance, due to its position. This energy can even be calculated using different physics formulas. In some cases, such as in chain reactions, potential energy is converted into kinetic energy. This energy corresponds to the work that must be performed to set the object into its current movement from rest. It depends on the mass and speed of the moved body. The joule is the unit of measure for kinetic energy. The concept of kinetic energy was introduced by Émilie du Châtelet in the 18th century, building on the work of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. There are also chain reactions between particles that we cannot see - such as in a nuclear reactor.
But how long does such a chain last?
From the viewpoint of physics, there are no limits to a chain reaction. There is just one requirement: The previous process must generate sufficient energy to set the subsequent movements in motion.
If the energy is not sufficient (for instance, a normal domino cannot knock over a glass), the chain reaction stops.
From a practical standpoint, the chain reaction also ends when there are no more dominoes or no more objects.
If there is always another object and the previous object applies sufficient force to it, theoretically a chain reaction could continue indefinitely.