The Domino Effect

Domino is a game of skill and chance that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. The pieces are flat squares of wood or plastic, usually with a series of dots on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other. Each domino has a center of gravity, and it doesn’t take much to tip the first one over its “tipping point.” This creates potential energy in the form of a small force that can then push on each subsequent domino. This is called the domino effect, and it’s amazing to see a lineup of hundreds or even thousands of these dominoes set up in careful sequence, all falling with the nudge of just one.

In addition to games of strategy and chance, many domino games involve social interactions and foster camaraderie among participants. In bustling city squares and quiet village homes, dominoes bring people together in a way that transcends linguistic and cultural boundaries. They are an enduring symbol of humankind’s innate desire for connection and community.

The term domino is also used to refer to the action of a person or organization influencing others in a chain-like fashion. This can be positive, such as when an entrepreneur starts a new restaurant and inspires others to follow suit. Or, it can be negative, such as when an act of vandalism causes a business to close down.

There are countless ways to play domino, but all require the same basic elements: a set of dominoes, a domino table, and players. The number of tiles in a set depends on the type of domino being played; for example, a double-twelve set (91 tiles) or a double-nine set (55 tiles) will be required to play a game with four players.

Once all players have drawn their hands, the player holding the heaviest double begins play. In some games, however, a player may choose to bye from the stock and have another player play a tile first. This is referred to as “buying” and is allowed only if the player has not already played a tile.

In a video, University of Toronto professor Stephen Morris demonstrates the true power of the domino effect. Using just 13 dominoes, he shows how a tiny force can lead to massive results. When a domino is tipped past its tipping point, it can exert a force of up to two billion times its weight. This is an astounding demonstration of the power of physics and a reminder that our small actions can have huge impacts.