The Domino Effect


Dominoes are small rectangular blocks that have either a blank face or one to six pips (small dots) on it. A standard domino set contains 28 pieces. They are used for games in which a player places a domino edge to edge against another in such a way that the adjacent faces match or form some specified total.

When a domino falls, much of its potential energy converts to kinetic energy, the energy of motion. This energy is transferred to the next domino, providing the push it needs to fall over. The process continues, domino by domino, until the last one falls. The resulting chain reaction is often breathtaking to behold.

The concept of the falling domino is not just for games. It is also an important element in many other fields, from business to politics and more. In fact, one of the most widely known examples of the domino effect was an idea that political columnist Richard Alsop gave President Eisenhower in 1954. Alsop suggested that the spread of Communism around the world would be like a series of dominoes, with each successive country influenced by and in turn influencing the previous ones. The idiom domino effect has since become widely used to describe any event that may cause another, even unrelated events, to follow suit.

Aside from the entertainment value of dominoes, they can be useful tools in teaching children about numbers and counting. In addition, some people enjoy arranging them into rows or lines to create artistic designs or patterns. Whatever the reason for playing with these little rectangles, most people agree that they are fun.

For centuries, dominoes have been in use throughout the world and a variety of games have been played with them. The two most popular games in the West are the Block and Draw games. The rules for these games are fairly simple: A player in turn places a domino edge to edge against one that matches or forms some specified total. The first player to complete the desired pattern wins.

Although there are numerous other games that can be played with dominoes, these two are the most common in the United States. Other games include the Chinese game, in which players place dominoes in angular arrangements, and the Latin American game of res, in which each player has one or more tiles to be placed and then takes turns placing the rest of his or her dominoes.

Nick Hevesh, the domino artist, has developed a technique for creating mind-blowing designs using only the tools that are available in his grandmother’s garage. With a drill press, radial arm saw, scroll saw, belt sander, and welder, Hevesh has constructed a series of complex domino structures that are often the subject of television and magazine articles. Hevesh follows a version of the engineering-design process when she creates her creations, including considering the theme or purpose of the design and brainstorming images or words that might be associated with it.