The Domino Effect

Dominoes are long, narrow pieces of wood, plastic or metal used for a variety of games. They are also sometimes called bones, cards, men, or tiles and are similar to playing cards. They have a line in the middle to divide them visually into two squares, each with an arrangement of dots (pips) or spots on both ends. The number of pips or spots on each end is the domino’s value. The heaviest dominoes have six pips; the lightest have none or blank spots.

Traditionally, each piece of a domino has an identifying mark on one side and a blank or identically patterned mark on the other. The pips or spots may be randomly arranged, allowing a single tile to represent an array of 21 possible results when thrown two six-sided dice. The most common domino set is a double-six, consisting of 28 unique pieces with two different ends having zero to six pips.

The domino effect is a figurative term that describes the way one small event can lead to an even bigger event. The idiom originated during the Cold War when an American journalist named Joseph Alsop used it to explain how Communism could spread from one country to another.

In a series of articles published in the New York Times in 1948, Alsop used the falling domino principle to explain how Communism might spread from the Soviet Union to other countries. He argued that once Communism takes over a country, other small countries around it are more likely to become Communists as well.

Although the domino effect is a political theory, it can be applied to a variety of situations. For example, in the case of a terrorist attack, it can be used to describe how a single bombing can cause other attacks and explosions.

Several other examples of the domino effect have been used in film and literature to convey complex and intricate ideas, such as the fall of a tower or the rise of a city. For example, in the film The Day After, when a man is attacked, he tries to run away from the crime scene but instead runs into a wall that collapses.

A domino artist, Lily Hevesh, has used the falling domino principle to create intricate designs. She uses a lot of science to create her incredible displays, but one physical phenomenon in particular is essential: gravity.

Once a domino falls, it can knock down the next in a chain of dominoes that follow, and this causes them to tip over as well. It’s this motion that allows Hevesh to make her incredible, circular arrangements.

She’s done this on several projects, including a concert for Katy Perry and a wedding reception for President Barack Obama. She’s also created a Guinness World Record for the most dominoes toppled in a circular arrangement: 76,017.

When Hevesh creates her large-scale displays, she works with a team of scientists to figure out what will trigger the dominoes to tip over. She says she’s learned that there are certain physical phenomena that must be in place for a domino to fall correctly, and those are gravity and inertia.