What is a Domino?

A domino is a small, flat rectangular block used as a gaming object. It is made of a rigid material such as wood or bone, and is variously called a bone, piece, man, or stone. It is arranged so that its one edge rests on or touches another such piece, creating a chain reaction when the first domino is knocked over. Dominoes are often used to play games such as tic-tac-toe, and to create displays of artistic beauty. They can also be used to model cellular activity, and for educational purposes such as in math lessons.

The word “domino” is also used to describe a chain reaction that occurs when the end of a long, flexible wire is touched by another object and then falls over, causing the rest of the wire to follow suit. The term is also used in everyday speech to describe events that affect other people, places, or things, and thus have a domino effect. For example, if your soccer team wins against their biggest rivals, it may create a domino effect of goodwill within the community and lead to state playoffs. Likewise, if a student sees their hard work pay off in the form of an improved grade, it may cause them to set more goals and push harder, thus leading to academic success.

In the game of domino, each player in turn places a tile on the table positioning it so that its matching end is touching a previous domino, or “stitching up” both ends of a double. The resulting chain develops a snake-like shape depending on the players’ whims and the limitations of the playing surface. Each matching end must have a number showing or be blank (sometimes called a wild end).

There are many other games played with dominoes of different kinds, some of which involve scoring. For example, in some British pubs and social clubs, a scoring version of the game is played, whereby players attempt to attach tiles from their hands to an end of those already placed so that the sum of the number of the dominoes on the two ends is divisible by five or three. Each time this is achieved, a point is scored.

When a person attempts to make a very large domino display, the physics of how the pieces fall is very complex. A domino artist named Hevesh has created incredible designs, some of which feature more than 300,000 individual dominoes. Hevesh credits much of her success to science, particularly the phenomenon of gravity. To help ensure her creations will be successful, Hevesh meticulously tests each section of her work in advance and films the test in slow motion to ensure everything works properly. She even goes so far as to place the largest 3-D sections of her works on a large piece of glass so that she can watch them fall. This gives her the opportunity to correct any issues before bringing them together into an entire installation.