Dominoes are small, rectangular blocks of wood or other rigid material that are used for gaming. They are sometimes known as bones, cards, men, or pieces and can be arranged into straight or curved lines to form patterns or pictures. When one domino is pushed down, it triggers a chain reaction that causes all the other tiles to fall over, one after another. These cascades of rhythmic movement are referred to as the Domino Effect, and they can be used to create art or even to tell a story.
Most domino games are positional, with each player in turn placing a tile on the table so that its end points are connected to each other or that it straddles an existing end point. Each domino normally features a line that divides it visually into two squares, with each of the two sides marked with an arrangement of spots (also called pips) or blank. The sum of the values on either side of a domino is its rank or weight; a domino with more pips has greater value than one with fewer.
The first domino in a line to fall is known as the starting piece and must be set up in advance of playing the game. When a player begins, they may draw the starting piece from their hand or select it randomly. The first player to place their tile must then mark the next piece so that it is positioned on its long edge against the edge of the previous domino, and straddles the other end point of that domino. If a double is positioned in this way, the rules of the game typically specify that additional tiles can only be placed on its short side.
While the physical laws of gravity are responsible for creating a domino effect, there is also an energy law involved. When a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy, or stored energy based on its position. When the domino falls, much of this energy converts to kinetic energy, or the energy of motion. Some of this energy is transmitted to the next domino, which in turn provides the push needed to cause it to fall. This process continues, one domino at a time, until all the pieces have fallen.
While most domino players use their tiles for games such as bergen and muggins, which involve scoring by counting the pips (or spots) on opposing players’ tiles, domino can be used to teach children number recognition and basic math skills. It can also be used to make beautiful, intricate creations, including 2D lines and arcs that shape images or words and 3D structures such as towers and pyramids. Some artists, such as Lily Hevesh, have created mind-blowing domino sets that feature intricate patterns and themes. Hevesh has even created domino art for movies, TV shows, and events—including an album launch for pop star Katy Perry. Her process for designing her domino installations is a version of the engineering-design process: She considers what she wants to achieve, then designs the system that will allow her to accomplish that goal.