Dominoes – More Than Just Dominoes

Domino is a tile-based game in which players lay down a domino piece, usually rectangular, with a line dividing one of its faces into two square ends marked with an arrangement of spots or “pips” (also known as dots). The backs of the pieces are blank or identically patterned. The matching dominoes form a set, which is also sometimes called a deck or pack. Each player has a turn to play a domino until either all of the pieces are played or there is no longer any possible move.

Dominoes are most often made of polymer materials such as bakelite or phenolics, but they can be found in other natural and manmade materials as well: bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother-of-pearl), ivory; a dark wood such as ebony; marble, granite, or soapstone; metals; ceramic clay; and, rarely, crystal and frosted glass. Some sets include dominoes with alternate sides in different colors, such as white and black.

There are many games that can be played with dominoes. The most basic ones are blocking and scoring games. Blocking games involve placing a domino so that it covers an existing one or blocks another piece from falling, and scoring games depend on winning tricks or accumulating points.

More creative games can be played with a domino set, including domino art and 3D structures such as towers and pyramids. In domino art, straight or curved lines are drawn on paper to show the way a domino track should fall. It may be as simple as drawing a grid that forms a picture when the dominoes are arranged, or as complicated as a detailed plan for a dazzling domino setup.

Hevesh, a 20-year-old from California, makes amazing domino setups for movies and TV shows, and has even created domino art for musicians and events. She’s worked on projects involving more than 300,000 dominoes, and her largest installations can take several nail-biting minutes to fall. Hevesh says that when creating her mind-blowing displays, she follows a version of the engineering-design process.

She starts by considering the theme or purpose of an installation and brainstorming images that she might want to use. She then creates a template to guide her as she builds.

Once the first domino is placed, most of its potential energy converts to kinetic energy, the kind that causes it to push over the next domino. The remainder of the energy is transmitted to the next domino, which gives it the push it needs to fall, and so on.

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