What is Domino?


Domino, from the Latin dominum, is a set of rectangular wooden blocks used in a game of skill and chance to form lines or patterns that lead to a specified outcome. A person can also use them to construct more elaborate structures, such as free-standing towers or intricate layouts of the letters of the alphabet, numbers, and other symbols. These arrangements are often referred to as domino art or domino sculptures, and may be displayed for decorative purposes, or as part of a larger domino event.

Lily Hevesh, a domino artist whose YouTube channel, Hevesh5, has more than 2 million subscribers, started playing with dominoes when she was 9 years old. She remembers stacking them up in straight or curved lines and flicking the first one over to watch them all fall, one by one. She eventually built up her own domino collection, and now creates spectacular setups for movies, TV shows, events, and even albums by pop stars like Katy Perry.

While there are many games that can be played with dominoes, the standard set of 28 tiles is most commonly used in Western countries for the Block and Draw games. In these, dominoes are arranged in long rows and players place them so that the sum of the numbers on the ends is divisible by five or three. One point is scored for each tile placed in this manner, and players continue placing their tiles until the entire row is completed or they can no longer place another domino without blocking another player.

The word domino is also used to describe a chain reaction that starts with a single event and causes a sequence of occurrences that are linked together by the initial event. This concept is a powerful metaphor for explaining how a small change can cause a series of related effects, and it has been used in everything from political rhetoric to science fiction. The 1977 Frost/Nixon interviews, for example, featured Richard Nixon defending the United States’ destabilization of Communist Chile and Cuba by applying the domino theory.

According to physicist Stephen Morris, domino is actually an excellent model for a physical system that exhibits the principle of physics known as conservation of energy. A domino is rectangular and twice as long as it is wide, and each side has a number of dots or squares (called pips) that indicate its value in the game. When a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy because it is held up against the force of gravity, but when it falls, much of this potential energy is converted to kinetic energy as other dominoes topple over.

The same is true in the real world. When one event triggers another that leads to a series of consequences, the result is often dramatic and sometimes catastrophic. This is the basis of the famous phrase, “the domino effect,” and it’s a common metaphor for situations that are out of control or difficult to understand.