The Domino Effect

A domino is a flat, thumbsized rectangular block, bearing from one to six pips or dots (or other symbols) on each end: 28 such pieces make up a complete set. It is typically used in games of chance and skill where the player aims to place pieces down in lines and angular patterns, creating chains that cascade from one side to the other when knocked over. The word is also used in the plural to refer to the many different games played with such pieces, including solitaire and trick-taking games.

When a person or organization starts to do something successfully, it often leads to a domino effect in which the success creates more of the same behavior or results. The phrase originated in reference to the physical effect of a single domino falling over and causing more to fall, but it has become more figurative as well. It is also used to refer to a chain reaction in a computer program or other system where each step causes the next in a predetermined order.

The earliest known game with dominoes was the piquet, in which two or more players competed to be the first to reach a certain number of points by blocking or scoring adjacent squares on a board. Later, there were games in which a player aimed to build the longest continuous line of dominoes on the table. This was a challenge to the ability of each player, and it could be an intensely competitive game, especially in larger groups.

Dominoes can be made in almost any shape and size, but most are rectangular and bear a specific pattern of spots on each face. Depending on the type of game, they are either blank or bear an identity-bearing face with from one to six pips or dots. The most common sets of dominoes are double-six (28 tiles) and double-nine (128), although extended sets with more pips may exist.

A domino stands upright because it has potential energy, or stored energy based on its position. When it falls, much of this potential energy converts to kinetic energy, or the energy of motion, which then transmits to other dominoes. This causes the entire row to fall over in a chain reaction.

When Hevesh creates her mind-blowing domino creations, she uses a variation of the engineering design process. She begins by considering the theme or purpose of her work, then brainstorms images or words she might use.

For instance, if her installation is about a family gathering, she might come up with the idea of “domino of love.” She then sketches out ideas for how to achieve this goal, and finally builds the piece.

This approach can be applied to other aspects of a person’s life, such as a writer’s craft. The scene domino is the scene or event that, by itself, does not advance a story but is vital to its structure and theme. In the hands of a skilled writer, these scene dominoes are then able to influence other scenes and create the narrative pattern of a story or essay.

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