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How to Create Mind-Blowing Domino Sets

Domino is a game in which players place dominoes on their end in long lines. The first domino that is tipped over causes the next one in line to tip, and so on. The result is a spectacular cascade of dominoes that can create very complex designs. The word domino is also a figurative phrase that describes any action that has larger-than-expected consequences, such as a simple decision leading to an epidemic or a student passing a class, which leads to the rest of his or her peers doing the same.

A domino is a small rectangular tile with an arrangement of black or white spots, called pips, on both sides. It is used as a base for building other shapes and can be made of many different materials, including wood, clay, and plastic. Most modern domino sets are constructed from polymer, such as the type found in children’s toys. However, dominoes can be made from a variety of other natural materials, such as bone (from the upper half of the silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell, or MOP), ivory, and dark hardwoods such as ebony. These sets can be more expensive, but have a pleasing look and feel.

The basic game of domino involves two players and a set of 28 dominoes, called a double-six set. The dominoes are placed in a pile, called the boneyard, and each player chooses seven dominoes to play. The players then attempt to place each of their dominoes so that the adjacent ends match in number of pips, or dots, as shown on the adjacent side of a previous domino. The more matching pairs there are, the more points a player can earn.

When Hevesh creates her mind-blowing domino setups, she uses a version of the engineering-design process. She starts by considering the theme or purpose of an installation, then brainstorms images and words that could help her convey the idea. Once she has a rough plan, she tests the dominoes to see how they behave and make adjustments as needed.

As Hevesh explains, dominoes have inertia—the tendency of objects to resist motion when no outside force is acting on them. However, just a tiny nudge is enough to overcome this resistance and push a domino past its tipping point. When that happens, most of the domino’s potential energy converts to kinetic energy, or the energy of movement. Some of this energy is transmitted to the next domino, giving it the push it needs to fall over. Then the remaining energy is used to topple the next domino and so on.

When you think about it, Domino is a great metaphor for life. The most important decisions we make can have the most dramatic impact, and one little choice can lead to unexpected results. If you want to be successful, it’s important to do the little things that add up to big outcomes. It may be as simple as making your bed or avoiding junk food. Then, when you achieve a goal, don’t stop there. Build on it and see what you can create with the power of Domino!