How Domino Can Demonstrate Physics Principles

Domino is an incredibly versatile toy, one that can be used for a multitude of games and artistic creations. It can be lined up to form straight lines, curved lines, grids that create pictures, or it can be glued together to make intricate structures. It can even be stacked on top of each other to form towers that can reach heights of up to three feet.

But the most impressive thing about domino is how it can be used to demonstrate physics principles. The WONDER Blog takes a look at this phenomenon today with a video demonstration of a domino effect.

A domino is a small tile that features a value on both sides, and usually has either black or white dots in a specific pattern. The value of a domino can range from six to zero (or blank).

The word “domino” comes from the Italian word for little hat, and refers to a type of playing piece used in games where players place tiles side-to-side on a table or surface until the entire line is completed. The first player to finish their domino in this way wins the game. Dominoes are typically made of a material like bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood such as ebony with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on them. Other materials for dominoes have also been used, including stone (such as marble, granite or soapstone), other woods; metals such as brass or pewter; ceramic clay; and even frosted glass and crystal.

In the late 19th century, dominoes were popular in Europe, with a number of different types of play. These included blocking games where tiles are placed edge-to-edge on a surface to block other players; scoring games, in which the total of adjacent sides of the tiles forms a specific value; and overlapping games, in which a single player places a domino with a value of one against another until they are all in place. Despite their relative simplicity, dominoes can be very complicated to play, especially with a large set of tiles.

When Hevesh sets up a new domino structure, she usually tests each section before putting it all together. By watching the test pieces in slow motion, she can correct any issues before they affect the whole installation.

Hevesh uses this approach when creating her own domino art, too. She will create a template with a particular design in mind, and then use dominoes to fill in the blanks. The process can take weeks, but she enjoys the challenge of figuring out how to make her vision a reality.

Writing novels involves a similar challenge of lining up the dominoes to create a satisfying story. Whether you’re a pantser who writes by the seat of your pants or an outliner who plots everything out ahead of time with a tool such as Scrivener, you’ll need to be able to anticipate what the next scene in your story will be and how it will impact the one before it. If the result is a series of scenes that feel flat or out of sync with each other, you’ve likely missed the mark.