Dominoes are those black and white rectangles that some kids like to stack on end in long lines. Then, when the first domino is tipped over, it causes the next one to tip over and so on until the whole line of them collapses. This simple action is often used as an example of the “domino effect.” It’s the idea that a small change in behavior can cause a chain reaction with larger-than-expected consequences.
Dominoes come in several different shapes and sizes. The most common are those that have a square or rectangular shape with one to six dots or pips on each side. There are also circular dominoes and ones that resemble coins. There are even three-dimensional dominoes that can be used to create walls and towers.
Some people use dominoes to play games that involve matching the ends of two or more dominoes and then laying them down in straight lines or angular patterns. Other people use them to make art. Some people design intricate, geometric lines of dominoes that create pictures when they fall. Others build 3D structures such as pyramids and towers.
Whether you’re creating a design of dominoes or plotting your next novel, the principles of the Domino Effect can help you. For instance, the idea is that if you make one small change to your routine, it will cause other changes to happen without you having to force them to occur. For example, if you decide to start exercising more, then you’ll probably eat less fat as a result. This is what Domino Effect experts call the “natural side effect.”
Hevesh is an expert at designing and constructing dominoes. She’s created some of the largest, most elaborate domino creations in history. Her creations may take hours to complete and can be nail-bitingly suspenseful to watch. But Hevesh knows what makes her designs possible: the laws of physics.
Dominoes have inertia, which means they resist motion unless there’s an outside force acting on them. But if you give a domino just a little bit of a push, it’ll have enough energy to overcome that inertia and start moving. As it falls, the potential energy of that first domino becomes available for other purposes—namely, to push on the next domino.
Hevesh’s creations are amazing to see, but the physics behind them is just as fascinating. The domino effect is much more powerful than most people realize.
In the past, dominoes were made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony. Today, dominoes are often made of polymers such as plastic or resin. But there are still some sets that are made of natural materials such as marble, granite, and soapstone. And there are some that are made of woods such as ebony or walnut; metals such as brass and pewter; ceramic clay; or glass or crystal.
Most domino games are played by two or more players and typically have the same rules. One of the most popular types of games is called blocking, where each player tries to empty their hand while simultaneously blocking their opponent’s. Another popular game is scoring, which usually involves counting the number of pips in the losing player’s tiles.