Dominoes – A Symbol of Peace and Hope

A domino is a flat, thumb-sized rectangular block, with one side blank and the other bearing an arrangement of dots or pips (as on a die): 28 such pieces form a complete set. Dominoes are played in many games by matching the ends of adjacent dominoes, and laying them down in lines or angular patterns.

Hevesh started playing with dominoes as a child and soon was building intricate constructions with them. The key to these creations is finding the right domino, a piece that has inertia, and just needs a tiny nudge to start a chain reaction of falls.

Dominos can be arranged in straight and curved lines, into grids that form pictures or stacked walls. They can be made into 3D structures like towers and pyramids. They can even be used to create a rainbow spiral, as Hevesh has done here using 12,000 dominoes.

The game moved from Italy to France in the early 18th Century and became a fad. It was popular in taverns and inns where it likely gained the name, which is thought to be derived from a black-and-white hood worn by Christian priests in winter; a more logical derivation is that the word may be related to Latin for “flip.”

A popular game in China, domino was invented by a statesman who presented them to the Emperor Hui Tsung (1127–1163 CE). In his Chu sz yam (Investigations on the Traditions of All Things), he wrote that the Chinese have always played with dominoes. He also outlined several types of domino puzzles, involving placing tiles on the board in such a way that their ends match or are based on arithmetic properties of the pips.

In more recent times, dominoes have become a symbol of peace and hope in the wake of natural disasters. In Haiti, for example, volunteers used dominoes to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Matthew. The project was so successful that the organization has now expanded to other countries, including the United States and India.

Dominos are a good metaphor for the domino effect, the idea that when one change in behavior activates a chain reaction in other behaviors. For example, a study found that when people decreased the amount of time they spent in sedentary leisure activities, they also reduced their fat intake. That’s because, like a single domino that tips over other dominoes, when we make a change in our lives, it can have unexpected and beneficial side effects. So, the next time you think of making a change in your life, consider whether it will have a domino effect—and be willing to take that risk. You just might find that your new habit makes you a happier and healthier person!