Dominoes are a popular toy and game that allows players to create a sequence of events where one simple domino can cause the next domino in the line to fall, creating a chain reaction that continues until all of the dominoes have fallen over. Despite the simplicity of the game, some very complex domino designs can be created, and the physics of the falling dominoes provides an interesting lesson about energy.
Dominoes, also known as a set of domino tiles or bones, are rectangular blocks of wood, bone, or plastic. Each domino has a surface with an arrangement of dots, called pips, on one side and is blank or identically patterned on the other side. The pips form a grid, which is used to determine the value of a domino. The most common type of domino has a total of twenty-six squares. The dominoes are typically set up on a table and each player takes turns placing a tile down, positioning it so that its exposed ends touch other dominoes with their pips, or are adjacent to another domino of the same kind. When a pair of matching ends touches, the domino is then “dominoed” and the other end can be played on.
Many different games can be played with dominoes, including scoring and blocking games. Blocking games involve attempting to prevent opponents from playing a tile. Scoring games, such as bergen and muggins, score points based on the number of pips in the losing player’s remaining dominoes. Many of these games duplicate card games, which are often forbidden by religious organizations that forbid the playing of cards.
While most of these games are fun and educational, dominoes can also be used to create artistic designs. Some of these designs, which are often made on paper or cardboard, are very complex and require careful planning to ensure that all the dominoes will fit together. The most intricate designs, however, are often created with real dominoes. These works of art can take days to complete, and each domino is carefully placed so that when it falls, the entire design will work as intended.
Hevesh, who has worked on domino designs ranging from small circular patterns to a Guinness World Record-breaking circular installation consisting of 300,000 dominoes, says that she uses a lot of physics when creating her works. She tests each section of the larger domino layouts she creates, and films them in slow motion to see how they work. She then assembles the sections into the final domino structure, which can take several nail-biting minutes to fall. She says that the biggest factor in her successful installations is gravity, which is what causes a domino to fall and start a chain reaction.