Dominoes Are Not Just Game Pieces


A domino is a small rectangular block of wood or plastic that has a line across its face to divide it visually into two squares. Each side of the domino has a number of dots (also called pips) ranging from six down to blank or zero, depending on the particular game. The total value of a domino’s pips is referred to as its rank or weight. A higher ranking domino is “heavier” than a lower-ranking one.

Dominoes are often used in games of chance and skill. They are also used in art projects to make patterns and sculptures. Various shapes, sizes, and materials are used to make the dominoes. They are typically made to stand upright on their edges, but they can be flattened to make them easier to carry and stack.

The most common domino material is bone, although wood, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell, ivory, and dark hardwoods such as ebony are sometimes used. Traditionally, dominoes were hand-carved. Some modern manufacturers produce dominoes in plastic, metal, or clay. The rules of domino vary widely, but the basic goal is to build a chain that leads to the final victory condition, which may be based on a specific set of criteria or simply to be the first to place all of your tiles in the center of the table.

A physicist at the University of Toronto has studied dominoes to discover why they fall the way that they do. His research suggests that standing a domino upright gives it potential energy, or stored energy based on its position. When the domino is then pushed over, much of that potential energy converts to kinetic energy, or energy of motion. This energy then travels to the next domino, which pushes it over as well, and so on.

When creating her mind-blowing domino setups, Hevesh follows a version of the engineering-design process. She considers the theme or purpose of an installation, then brainstorms images or words that might be represented by the layout. Once she has a design in mind, she starts laying down the dominoes.

Some dominoes have only one end that is open for play, while others have both long and short sides. Generally, additional tiles can only be played to the ends of open dominoes. Exceptions can be made for doubles, which are usually placed cross-ways in the layout, straddling the end of the tile that it is connected to.

When playing domino, it is important to play on a hard surface so that the dominoes will be easier to stand up on their edge. A soft surface can make it difficult to get the dominoes to sit straight and will cause them to lean or fall over as they are pushed. It is also a good idea to play on a large table so that the players have enough space to maneuver their hands and pieces. This will help prevent them from running out of room before they can finish their turns.