The Power of Dominoes


If you’ve ever arranged a long row of dominoes and then knocked them over, you know the power of the domino effect. But did you know that physicists have demonstrated that a single domino can actually push things one-and-a-half times its size?

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Dominoes are small rectangular pieces in a set that each has a different number of pips on each end. Some people like to use them to play games, while others enjoy lining them up in long rows and then knocking them down. Whatever your favorite way to use them, you can be sure that these black and white tiles are a lot more powerful than they look.

The word domino comes from the Latin dominion, which means “master of the house.” It has also been derived from the Scottish and English dominus and domina. In English, the word has been used to refer to various forms of authority, including a monarchy, a schoolmaster, and a type of monastic hood. In the 18th Century, dominoes became a popular fad, and many companies began producing sets of them. These early sets were used mostly for positional games, where the tiles were placed edge to edge in such a way that the matching ends matched. Later, more complex sets were produced that allowed the players to make arithmetic calculations using the numbers on the pips.

Today, the most common domino sets contain 28 tiles and come in different shapes, colors, and sizes. They can be purchased at most toy stores and some grocery stores. Larger sets are available for games with more than one player or for those who want to build very long domino chains.

In most domino games, each player takes turns putting down a tile on the table. When the player has finished his or her turn, a domino with the same pips as the first tile must be placed adjacent to it. This creates a chain of dominoes, or a “domino line,” that continues until all the tiles have fallen.

Most domino games fall into two categories: blocking games and scoring games. In blocking games, the goal is to empty your opponent’s hand while blocking his or her play. In scoring games, such as bergen and muggins, points are determined by counting the pips in the losing players’ hands.

While some of the most popular domino games involve building lines of dominoes, other games are more challenging and require strategic thinking. These types of games often test a player’s ability to see several moves ahead.

Hevesh, who started collecting dominoes at age 10, has become known for her mind-blowing domino setups. She follows a version of the engineering-design process to create her works, starting with considering a theme or purpose. Then, she brainstorms images or words to help inspire her arrangement. Finally, she tests each section of her design to ensure that it will work. Once she is satisfied with the results of her testing, she begins constructing her masterpieces. She builds the biggest 3-D sections first, followed by flat arrangements and then the lines of dominoes that connect all the sections together.