The Domino Effect

The word domino evokes images of a series of small events or behaviors cascading to create a larger effect, much like the ripple caused by the simple act of dropping a pebble into water. The concept is not limited to dominoes and water, of course; many other things — such as exercise and sleep patterns, relationships, and even the way one person speaks to another — have a similar dynamic. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most popular examples of this Domino Effect in action and discuss how to apply this idea to your own life.

A domino is a flat, thumb-sized rectangular block, usually made of wood or plastic, with one face bearing an arrangement of spots or dots (known as pips) and the other blank or identically patterned. A standard set of dominoes contains 28 such blocks, but many games are played with fewer or more than that number. A piece with a value of zero, which does not appear on any end, is sometimes included. Also called bones, men, pieces, or tiles.

Domino games generally involve placing the dominoes edge to edge against each other in a pattern to form a specified total or, more commonly, a line or angular layout. The number of pips on a domino is its value, and the values increase in a standard set from one to six (known as a double-six set). Each end of a domino may have either an identifying mark or a blank space, and the number of pips on each end determines which sides of the domino are used for scoring.

While most domino players are familiar with positional games, there are numerous other types of domino play. For example, dominoes can be used to build structures such as towers, arches, and castles; they can also be used to create artistic and architectural designs, as well as to tell a story.

Creating an amazing domino setup requires a lot of practice and attention to detail. Hevesh, who has worked on projects involving 300,000 dominoes and helped establish a Guinness world record for the most dominoes toppled in a circular arrangement, says that she follows a version of the engineering-design process when she creates her mind-blowing designs. She begins by considering the theme or purpose of her project, then brainstorms images and words that might be relevant to it. She then makes a series of test versions of each section of the design, filming them in slow motion to get a good look at how they work.

When she’s satisfied that each part of the design works, Hevesh then puts them all together. She starts with the largest 3-D sections, then moves on to flat arrangements, and finally lines of dominoes that connect all the sections. She says that gravity is the main physical phenomenon that makes her installations possible. As a domino is knocked over, it converts potential energy to kinetic energy and transfers that energy to the next domino until all of them fall.