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Impossible? by Julian Havil

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Appendix

Principle of Induction

In Singapore, on Monday 18 August 2003, the South Korean ambassador to Singapore knocked over the first of more than 303 000 dominos to create a new world record for the longest solo dominoes topple. A Chinese lady, Ma Li Hua, had created the arrangement, having spent six weeks, working twelve hours a day doing so; they took just six minutes to fall.

The success of the attempt required two things: Ms Li Hua’s prodigious industry in ensuring that, if one domino should topple, the one following would topple too and the ambassador’s contribution in toppling the first domino. With these two actions assured, so was the success of the endeavour. There is a mathematical equivalent, a jewel in the crown of mathematical ...

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