Domino is a flat, thumbsized block bearing from one to six pips (or dots) on each face: 28 such dominoes make up a set. A domino is typically played by a person or robot that pushes it onto a small, square, wooden, or plastic base, which in turn causes other dominoes to tip over, building up a chain with the goal of having the last domino fall on itself. Dominos can be arranged in straight or curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, or 3D structures like towers and pyramids. They can be used to play a variety of games, such as the classic game of tic-tac-toe or the more complex set of rules for domino soccer.
Dominos are often seen in movies and television shows, such as “The Italian Job,” where the protagonists use a large setup to distract the police while they rob a bank. They are also used to create a wide variety of artwork, including paintings, sculptures, and murals.
Lily Hevesh began playing with dominoes when she was 9 years old, using a 28-piece set her grandparents gave her. Soon she was creating mind-blowing domino setups, and now, at 20, Hevesh is a professional domino artist. Her YouTube channel has more than 2 million subscribers. She works with a range of sponsors, from tech companies to major fashion brands, and her setups have even been featured in films, TV shows, and events for celebrities.
When Hevesh sets up a new domino chain, she carefully considers the theme or purpose of the installation. She then brainstorms images or words that she might want to include, and calculates how many pieces she will need. Then she starts arranging the dominoes, making sure that each tile has matching ends and that any doubles are placed correctly-cross-ways to one another. She may also draw a diagram to illustrate the way in which she wants the chain to fall, and then add arrows to indicate how each domino should be pushed.
In the real world, business leaders are also aware of the importance of a domino effect: one simple act can lead to much larger-and sometimes catastrophic-consequences. Domino’s Pizza, for example, initially struggled when founder Domino Monaghan took over the company in 1967, but by placing an emphasis on putting pizzerias near college campuses, he was able to reach out to a demographic with a strong appetite for quick pizza.
Dominoes are also a useful model for understanding the function of neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain. The brain’s ability to control the flow of information is analogous to a domino effect: an input from one part of the body prompts another part to react, and so on. For this reason, dominoes are also a great tool for teaching children about the way that electrical signals travel within the body and between different parts of the brain. In a classroom setting, dominoes can be used to demonstrate how the brain uses this information to determine which actions are possible and which are not.