Domino is a game with many variations and a wide range of uses. From the most basic block of a single color with two groups of spots on it to elaborate, detailed pieces arranged into arcs and curves, domino can be used to represent almost anything that can be acted upon by gravity.
Dominos are also useful as a teaching tool to illustrate principles of geometry and spatial relationships. Children love to set them up in lines and shapes, putting them on end, or even stacking them high. The most fun, however, is when they are played with and knocked down.
This is not only an exercise in patience and skill but also a demonstration of the chain reaction that can occur when one domino hits another, causing it to fall. The physics behind the phenomenon is actually quite simple. Standing a domino upright against the pull of gravity gives it potential energy, which is stored in its position. Once the domino falls, much of that potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, giving the next domino the push it needs to fall, and so on.
There are many ways to play domino, with some games requiring more strategic thinking than others. The most common games in the West are played with a standard double-six domino set (28 tiles), although larger sets exist. There are also a number of variations on these games that allow for different strategies and combinations of ends on the pieces.
The markings on dominoes, called pips, originally represented the results of throwing six-sided dice. A domino with five pips is considered to be in the suit of threes, while a domino with four pips is in the suit of eights. Each suit also has a corresponding ace. Other pips on the dominoes can be blank or have other markings.
When playing a domino game, players place a piece edge-to-edge against an existing domino in such a way that the matching ends are adjacent. Each player takes turns placing a tile on the domino, unless they cannot do so due to a lack of matching ends. In these cases, the player must select a domino from the boneyard and place it perpendicular to the existing double.
A domino’s physical properties also make it a valuable tool for a wide variety of artistic and architectural applications. The small size and intricate detail of dominoes lend themselves to a range of construction projects, from sculptural sculptures to buildings and other structures. Many artists use domino to express themselves, experimenting with its many shapes and styles. Some, like domino artist Nick Hevesh, make their living by creating mind-blowing domino installations. Hevesh explains that when she creates these designs, she follows a version of the engineering-design process. Her process involves considering a theme or purpose, brainstorming images, and then experimenting with ways to incorporate those into her design. Hevesh’s impressive domino creations have been featured in movies, television shows, and events, including the album launch of pop star Katy Perry.