Domino is a tile-based game in which players build chains of dominoes by laying one tile at a time. Each tile has a number on one side, and a blank side that can be ascribed any value by the player. If a tile matches the number on an adjacent domino, it is played and the chain grows longer. The resulting chains can be used to score points in a variety of different games.
A domino is a rectangular plastic or wood block with a number of pips on each surface. The pips represent values ranging from zero to twelve. The numbers are written on the sides of each domino, or they may be inlaid in a design. Some sets use Arabic numerals rather than the traditional pips. A small set of dominoes can be used to play simple games such as counting and matching, but larger sets are often used in educational settings to teach math and logic skills.
Before a hand begins, the dominoes are shuffled. When a person has a turn, they try to lay a domino with a value that matches the number on another domino already in place. When a match cannot be found, the person “knocks,” or raps, on the table to signal that they have no more dominoes to play and will pass their turn to the other player. The first person to complete their entire set of dominoes wins the hand.
Some players like to create large pieces of art with their dominoes. These designs can be straight lines, curved lines, grids that form pictures, or 3D structures such as towers and pyramids. Artists can also choose the colors and shapes of their tiles to create unique works of art.
The idea of a series of events that start with one domino and then lead to many others was the inspiration behind the famous phrase “domino effect.” This expression was popularized by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a speech about the spread of Communism during the Cold War, but it is now more generally used to describe any situation in which one event can lead to many more, sometimes catastrophic consequences.
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Physicist Stephen Morris explains that when a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy, or stored energy based on its position. When a player pushes a domino over, much of this energy is converted into kinetic energy, or the energy of motion. The next domino has the potential to move even more, and so on, creating a chain reaction that can quickly become unstoppable.