The Art of Domino
Domino, pronounced D-mo-ni-no, is the classic game of lining up a series of small rectangles called tiles and then flicking them over to cause all the other pieces to fall. This is also known as a chain reaction and it has given rise to such common expressions as “the domino effect” and “knocking over the first domino.”
Dominoes are usually made of clay, wood, bone or another durable material, and are marked with an arrangement of spots or pips, similar to those on a die, on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other. They are then glazed and painted with colors or clear lacquer. Modern domino sets are often made of polymers, such as polystyrene and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), although sets can also be found in natural materials such as marble, stone, metal and even glass or crystal.
A typical set of dominoes consists of 28 tiles, which are sometimes referred to as bones, cards, tiles, spinners or tickets. They may be used for a variety of games, including positional, strategy and luck-based. In many of these games, players compete to build chains of dominoes by placing a tile with its number showing at one end against an edge of another tile already in place. The players alternate the turn of playing a new tile into the chain and each player is limited to only one move per round.
While the traditional dominoes that most people think of are rectangles, other shapes have been used as well. A square and a pyramid are the most common, but curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, 3-D structures and other types of art have been created as well.
When it comes to creating domino art, a great deal of planning is involved. Hevesh says that she makes test versions of each section before putting them all together. This allows her to tweak the design if needed, and ensure that the whole project will work properly. She’s worked on projects involving more than 300,000 dominoes, and some of her largest installations can take several nail-biting minutes to fall in the correct order.
For Hevesh, the most important aspect of her job is ensuring that each domino falls correctly. As a physicist, she knows that the force of gravity is essential to making a successful domino setup. When a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy based on its location, but once it’s knocked over, this energy is converted into kinetic energy, or the energy of motion, and causes the next domino to topple and then the one after that. This is what creates the chain reaction that can lead to such dramatic results.