What is Domino?

Domino, also known as bones, cards, men, or pieces, are small rectangular blocks of wood, bone, or other rigid material used as gaming objects. They can be stacked on end to form long lines. When the first domino is tipped over, it sets in motion a sequence of events that continues down the line. This is the basis of the popular phrase “domino effect” that describes an action that leads to much larger–even catastrophic–consequences.

The term domino has many uses, from its most obvious use as a game to its role in business strategy and marketing. Domino’s, for example, is a pizza restaurant and delivery service, but the company has also innovated in technology to expand its menu and its reach. The company has even experimented with robots and drone delivery services for its pizza.

A Domino is a small block of wood, bone, or plastic, with one or more faces bearing a number of spots, or “pips.” The most common variety has 20 pips. Each domino is normally twice as long as it is wide. The domino’s value is determined by the sum of the numbers on its two adjacent sides, called ends.

Each side of a domino has a number, from five at one end to zero at the other, indicating its rank or weight. The higher the ranking, the more valuable a domino is.

Players place dominoes edge to edge against each other, or else against a fixed surface like a table. Then they play a domino to the end of the line so that it either touches another domino of the same rank or a number shown on one of the ends, which is said to have been “stitched up.”

The most common games involve blocking and scoring, but there are also non-blocking games, such as solitaire and trick-taking. Some of these games were once popular to circumvent religious prohibitions against playing cards.

Dominoes can be arranged in straight or curved lines, and it is possible to create very complex domino designs. The key to these designs is physics. Hevesh has created some of the largest domino installations ever, and they can take several nail-biting minutes to fall. The key is in the physics of gravity. Each domino has a “weight,” or inertia, that keeps it from falling until the first domino it comes into contact with falls. When that happens, all the potential energy stored in the other dominoes becomes available and the chain reaction begins.

Hevesh makes test versions of each section of a large installation to ensure that it will work before she puts it all together. She then films the tests, so that she can make precision corrections if necessary. Once she has the big 3-D sections set up, Hevesh adds flat arrangements and finally the lines of dominoes that connect them all together. She has been working on these elaborate creations for over a decade. Hevesh says that the most important physical phenomenon for creating a great domino setup is a simple thing: “Gravity.” She has found that this force pulls each domino toward Earth, sending it crashing into the next and causing it to trigger the whole sequence.