Dominoes and the Chain Reaction

Whether you’re building a domino set or creating a novel, the principle of chain reaction can help you plot your way to success. That’s because, regardless of how off-the-cuff or detailed your outline may be, your story ultimately comes down to a single question: What happens next?

A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block with one face bearing numbers (or blank) and the other marked with dots that resemble those on dice. A set of these small blocks, generally 28 in number, is used to play a game of chance or skill, where the objective is to score points by placing adjacent dominoes so that their pips form a specified total. Each player begins a round by drawing a domino from the draw pile and then placing it, edge to edge, on top of another in such a manner that the value of each adjacent tile is either equal or forms some specific total.

Dominoes can be played with any number of people, but the most common games involve two to four players. Some are won by the first person to reach a specified total; others are won by the player who has the most points after a certain number of rounds. In some cases, the winner is awarded points equal to the sum of the digits on all of the opponent’s remaining tiles. This is a good example of the need to agree upon rules before the game starts!

While most modern domino sets are made from polymer, dominoes have historically been made from a variety of natural materials. Some of the more traditional European-style sets were made from bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or dark hardwoods such as ebony. The pips on these types of dominoes are often inlaid or painted, which gives them a more unique look.

When a domino is positioned upright, it stores energy because it is lifting against the force of gravity. This potential energy is converted to kinetic energy when the domino is knocked over, which triggers a chain reaction that causes each adjacent domino to fall. This is why it’s important to place a domino on the center of the table, rather than in the corner.

When Lily Hevesh was 9, her grandparents gave her a classic 28-piece domino set. She loved setting up the blocks in straight or curved lines and flicking them to watch them all fall, one by one. Now, at 20, she’s a professional domino artist, creating spectacular setups for movies, TV shows, and events like Katy Perry’s album release. Hevesh creates test versions of each section of her installations before putting them together, and she films the process in slow motion to ensure that everything works properly. She has more than 2 million subscribers on YouTube, where she posts videos of her work.

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