What is Domino?

Domino is a game in which players place domino pieces edge to edge across one another. Each piece features a line in the middle that divides it visually into two squares, called ends. Each end may have a value of either one, six, or nothing (blank), indicating that the domino belongs to a suit of numbers (for example, threes) or a suit of blanks (for example, zero). The number of points on each end is the domino’s rank or weight. Depending on the rules of the game, a domino may be “heavy” or “light.”

Typically, a set of dominoes has 28 tiles, although larger sets exist. Before beginning a game, the dominoes are arranged in what is known as the boneyard or stock. The dominoes are then shuffled, and each player draws seven tiles from the stock. The player who draws the heaviest tile makes the first play. Alternatively, the players may draw lots to determine who will begin the game.

After the first tile is placed, each player may continue placing dominoes, following the rules of the particular game being played. Each time a new tile is played, the open end of the previous domino must touch the open end of the newly placed domino. The resulting chain of connected dominoes is called the layout, string, or line of play.

A player may also choose to use the dominoes for positional games, in which each tile is placed in a particular position with respect to adjacent dominoes. Then, each domino in the line of play must match a previous tile on its side or top, or form a specific total.

When a domino falls, it releases a pulse of energy that travels down the line and triggers other dominoes to fall in succession. The domino’s pulse has no loss of energy as it moves down the line, and is independent of its size compared to the firing neuron that triggered it.

The word domino is derived from an Italian word for fate or fortune, which is a similar concept to that of a nerve impulse. It also can refer to an entire system or group, such as a bank or business, which can collapse after one person falters.

Dominoes can be a fun and educational way to explore the principles of physics. To better understand the process, try placing several dominoes on a ruler and then briskly flicking one of them. Notice how the other dominoes respond as they fall, then try it again with a different finger.

Lily Hevesh, a domino artist who creates mind-blowing domino installations, uses a version of the engineering-design process when creating her projects. She starts by considering the theme of her installation, then brainstorms images or words that could symbolize it. She then tries to figure out how many dominoes she will need and how they will be positioned before making her final decision. This way, she can avoid a small mistake from accidentally bringing the entire project crashing down.