The Domino Effect

When a domino is knocked over, much of its potential energy becomes kinetic energy, the energy of motion. That energy is transmitted to the next domino and causes it to fall over, creating a chain reaction. The resulting force is known as the Domino Effect. The idiom is often used in politics to describe the spread of Communism or other political phenomena, but it can also be applied to any situation where one small trigger sets off a series of events.

Dominoes are rectangular blocks of wood or plastic, with an arrangement of spots resembling those on a die on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other. A domino’s pips are often labeled with Arabic numerals, but the most common are dots that are either painted or raised in relief. A set of dominoes has a total of 28 tiles: twenty-six double-ended and four single-ended dominoes.

A set of dominoes is called a “stock,” and each player draws a domino from the stock to make the first play of the game. If a player has no match for the domino he draws, he passes the turn to his opponent. After a player has made his first play, the rest of the tiles remain face down in the stock, and new ones may be drawn (See Passing and Byeing below).

There are many different types of domino games, with each having specific rules that must be followed. Some games are played with only one or two players; others require more than four. In addition, a number of games are played with only one domino or only the double-ended type.

In most domino games, a line of dominoes is formed as players take turns placing their tiles on the table. The tiles must fit together according to the pips on each end of a domino; the more matches that can be made between adjacent tiles, the longer the chain of plays will be.

Lily Hevesh, a professional domino artist, creates mind-blowing setups that involve millions of dominoes. When she starts a project, she considers the theme and purpose of the installation. Then, using a version of the engineering-design process, she tests each section of the design to ensure it works. Finally, she puts the whole setup together.

When Hevesh creates her enormous domino installations, she must account for variations in gravity. This is especially important for 3-D arrangements, which can take several nail-biting minutes to fall. She uses a technique similar to the way an engineer would test a prototype of an engine or mechanical device. The prototype is constructed on a flat surface and filmed in slow motion to help Hevesh correct errors. She has even worked on projects with as many as 300,000 dominoes. The most complex setups take weeks to complete. Once she has finished a project, Hevesh will often film it in slow motion to make corrections or show it off to her YouTube fans.