Domino is a game of chance and skill in which players arrange domino pieces edge to edge on a flat surface, with one side bearing an arrangement of dots or spots and the other blank. Depending on the rules of a given game, either all of a player’s tiles or all of his opponents’ pieces must be covered before play continues. The first player to cover all of his or her pieces wins.
In many games, the domino pieces are arranged in lines or other shapes that form patterns when they fall. The most common is a straight line of dominoes, but curved lines and grids that form pictures are also popular. Other arrangements are more elaborate, such as 3D structures like towers and pyramids.
The domino effect is the principle that a change to one thing in a system will cause a shift in related things. This principle is often used in a metaphorical sense to describe a series of events that occur as a result of an initial action, such as the collapse of a building after an earthquake or the way that a sand castle will crumble if water is poured over it. The concept can also be applied to human behavior, where changing one habit causes a cascade of changes in related habits, such as eating less fat or spending more time exercising.
Lily Hevesh was 9 years old when she began playing with her grandparents’ classic 28-piece set of dominoes. She loved setting them up in straight or curved lines and flicking the first domino to watch the whole row tumble. Today, Hevesh is a professional domino artist who creates spectacular setups for movies, TV shows, and events. Her YouTube channel has more than 2 million subscribers, and she has worked on projects that include a domino pyramid for Katy Perry’s album launch.
When she’s arranging a domino setup, Hevesh pays close attention to how each tile is positioned. A domino can only be played to an existing piece if the two matching ends are adjacent (or perpendicular, in the case of a double). She also ensures that the open ends on each end of the chain are even. For example, if a 6-6 is played to an open 5-6, the new tile must be positioned so that the two matching ends are both 6.
Physicist Stephen Morris agrees that gravity is key when it comes to dominoes. He explains that when a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy, or stored energy based on its position. But as a domino falls, it converts much of this energy into kinetic energy (energy of motion), which causes the next domino to tip over and so on.
This process is why it takes so long to build an elaborate domino setup – each individual domino has to be placed exactly right to get the desired results. Hevesh tests each section of her setups in slow motion, and she makes adjustments until the entire setup works as intended. One of her largest installations can take several nail-biting minutes to complete.