The Domino Effect

A domino is a flat, thumb-sized rectangular block of wood or plastic, with one side bearing an arrangement of spots or dots like those on dice. The other face is blank or identically patterned. There are 28 such pieces in a complete set. Also called bones, cards, men, or pieces, they are the building blocks of the many games played with them. In addition to the well-known game of laying down dominoes in straight or curved lines and knocking them over, players can build structures from them such as 3D towers and pyramids.

Lily Hevesh started collecting dominoes at age 9 and soon began posting videos of her creations online. She now has more than 2 million YouTube subscribers and creates spectacular domino setups for movies, TV shows, and events. She explains that she draws inspiration from “the beauty of the way a domino chain develops, forming snake-line patterns as it grows.”

To start a domino chain, a player places a tile on the table and positions it so that its matching end touches an edge of a previous tile, ideally a double. The resulting chain then forms a line that increases in length as players place additional tiles on the ends of existing chains. When a player can no longer play any of their remaining tiles, they “knock” or rap the table and play passes to the next player.

In sports, the phrase domino effect refers to a cascade of victories that eventually leads to a championship win. The domino effect can be seen in other aspects of life as well, such as the ripple effects that occur when someone’s good deed goes out into a community or school.

For Domino’s Founder Tom Doyle, the idea of starting a pizza company was a daunting task. After all, he’d never owned a restaurant before, and he didn’t even know how to cook! But he decided to take a risk and go for it. He knew that if he could deliver a great pizza, people would come back again and again. And they did — millions of times.

As a result, Domino’s pizzas are now sold in over 90 countries. And Tom’s original vision hasn’t changed much since that very first delivery.

The physics of dominoes is fascinating. When Hevesh sets up a large line of dominoes and flicks the first piece, it stands still because it has inertia, or resistance to motion. However, a small nudge is all it takes to move that domino past its tipping point and into motion. Then, its potential energy is converted to kinetic energy and causes it to push on the next domino, which in turn causes that domino to topple over. Then the next domino, and then the rest of the chain. This is what makes Domino’s so successful. To learn more, watch our Wonder of the Day below!