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How Dominoes Work


Dominoes are small rectangular blocks with one side bearing identifying marks and the other blank or marked by an arrangement of spots resembling those on dice. They are used for a variety of games. The term domino is also applied to the chain reaction of events that occurs when one event causes a change in a related event. For example, when someone changes their sedentary leisure time to exercise more, they might find that they automatically eat less fat during the same period.

Domino art is an artistic form that involves arranging dominoes to create various shapes and designs, such as curves, grids that form pictures when they fall, 3D structures like towers and pyramids, or even elaborate tracks that cause dominoes to topple in a specific order. Artists often use their imagination to create stunning pieces of work, but they can also follow precise engineering principles to make sure that the design will work as intended. When a person plans an ultimate domino track, they will usually start with a piece of paper and draw arrows to show how each domino will be placed. They will then calculate the number of dominoes they need to create their masterpiece.

When a player is able to place a domino, it is added to the line of play or the string of dominoes being played. If the tile cannot be laid, the player may “knock” the table or rap on the table to stop play and pass the turn to another player. If all players have no more tiles to lay, a winning pair is determined. Depending on the game being played, this can be the pair whose total score of all pips left in their hands is lowest, or it can be whoever “chips out” first (see below).

Whether you are creating your masterpiece for entertainment or a specific purpose, understanding how a domino works will help you plan and construct your track. Physicist Stephen Morris explains that when a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy, or stored energy based on its position. When a domino is knocked over, much of this energy converts to kinetic energy, or the energy of motion, and is transmitted from the dominant to the next one in the chain. This continues until all of the dominoes have fallen.

In a similar way, when writers plot their novels, they are establishing scenes like dominoes that will eventually lead to the final scene. Regardless of whether you write off the cuff or carefully plan each scene, your goal is to get the reader to ask: “What’s going to happen next?” Considering how to incorporate the domino effect into your story will help you develop a compelling narrative.

When Nick created his own domino sculpture, he did not have any instructions or expensive computer controlled equipment at his disposal. Instead, he repurposed tools from his grandmother’s garage, including a drill press, radial arm saw, scroll saw, belt sander and welder. Using his creativity and the tools at hand, he developed an efficient process for creating mind-blowing domino setups. This method could be followed by other amateur woodworkers who want to try their hand at creating domino art.

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