How Dominoes Work
A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block with one face marked by an arrangement of dots similar to those on dice. The other face is blank or dotted with a number, usually six, but occasionally none or more than one, to indicate its value. Each domino is divided by a line into two squares, called ends; the side bearing the values (also known as pips) is considered to be “heavier,” or more valuable, than a side with no marks, or a blank.
Dominoes are the building blocks of a large number of games that can be played in both single and multiple player settings. These games are popular with people of all ages, from children to seniors. Some are simple, such as drawing lines and adding the first tile to create a row, while others require strategy and patience. Dominoes can also be used to build elaborate structures such as towers and castles.
The word domino can also refer to a sequence of events that causes something else to happen, as in “the chain reaction of terrorism that led to the bombing of the Pentagon.” The domino effect can occur in the business world as well as in the real world; for example, if a company’s leader makes an unpopular decision that affects one of its employees, that employee may quit and tell coworkers to follow suit.
Writing a novel can seem like creating a series of dominoes. Each scene in the story is a domino that can be knocked over by another, and those scenes all work together to advance the narrative. One of the most important elements in creating a compelling story is knowing how to connect these dominoes to each other and make sure they all fall at just the right time.
To understand how a domino works, it helps to look at its design. A domino is made of a large rectangle that’s twice as long as it is wide, with the two narrow sides parallel to each other. Each of the domino’s ends is also parallel to the short edge of the rectangle. The end of the domino that is nearest to the center of the rectangle is marked with a number of spots, or pips, from one to six, and the other end is blank or has no pips at all.
When a domino is struck, the potential energy stored in the domino transfers to the next domino, giving it the push needed to knock it over. This energy continues to flow from domino to domino until the last domino falls. Dominoes can be played on a table or in the air with a piece of wood that’s shaped like a triangle, called a base. The base can be used to mark the starting point for a domino race or to keep track of scores in a game. Many dominoes are glued to the base, which makes them easier to carry and transport.