Dominoes and the Domino Effect
The domino effect occurs when a small change has a larger impact on something else. This can have positive or negative effects. For example, a single Domino’s store closing could cause a ripple of job losses and potential customer decline. In other cases, a domino effect can cause a chain reaction with more serious consequences. In the business world, these chain reactions often happen due to leadership changes or other factors that are out of a company’s control.
A domino is a small rectangular wooden or plastic block that has a line across the middle to divide it visually into two squares, called ends. The ends are marked with an arrangement of dots, resembling those on dice. Each domino has a value, indicated by the number of dots on one end (called its pip count) and blank or 0 on the other. The most common domino set has 28 tiles. More extensive and complex domino sets are also available. A matched pair of dominoes is considered to have the same value, as are two dominoes with identical patterns on both sides.
Dominoes can be used to play a variety of games, most of which involve blocking or scoring. Dominoes can even be arranged into shapes to make intricate structures. A domino artist named Hevesh has built creations involving more than 300,000 dominoes and holds the Guinness World Record for a circular arrangement of 76,017 dominoes. Hevesh’s projects are not only artistic, but also a demonstration of the laws of physics. Hevesh relies on the principles of gravity to create her elaborate displays. Gravity pulls a knocked-over domino toward the ground and causes it to crash into the next domino in a chain reaction that continues until the entire structure has fallen.
When Hevesh is working with thousands of dominoes, she needs to take into account the forces of inertia. Inertia is the tendency of a mass to resist motion, but this force can be overcome by a small amount of external pressure. This pressure causes the tops of the dominoes to slip against each other and against the surface they’re on, generating friction that converts some of the energy into heat and sound.
Hevesh’s work requires a great deal of planning and strategy, but the science behind the process is just as fascinating. She and her team plan out the layout of the pieces, then use a special kind of paint to mark where each piece will fall. She’s also able to use the principle of friction to her advantage. “Friction helps to bring down the most difficult pieces,” she says.
The word domino has an interesting history, originating in both English and French. Originally, it denoted both a long hooded cloak worn together with a mask at carnival season or at a masquerade and the piece of the garment that served as its base. The modern sense of the word traces its roots back to 1750. The domino game, which features black and ivory playing pieces, may have been inspired by the hooded cloak.