Domino is a game of skill and strategy. The first player to play all of their tiles wins. It is a form of gambling that involves betting and taking risks, but it is also an educational tool for teaching numbers and counting skills.
A domino has a square base with a raised edge on the top and a line of dots called pegs down the side. Most modern sets are made of polymer materials such as plastic, although traditional European-style dominoes have been made from bone or ivory; dark hardwood such as ebony with contrasting black or white pips (inlaid or painted); metals like brass and pewter; and even frosted glass or crystal. Some of these natural sets have a more elegant appearance, and the heavy weight often adds to the enjoyment.
Physicist Stephen Morris, who studies the physics of dominoes, explains that when a domino is standing upright, gravity pulls down on it and stores energy. But when it falls, this energy is converted to kinetic energy, which can be transferred to other dominoes and set them in motion. Morris says that a single domino has such a high center of gravity that it only needs to be slightly tipped forward for this to happen.
Many different games can be played with dominoes, including scoring games such as bergen and muggins, in which a player earns points by counting the pips on the opposing players’ tiles; blocking games such as matador, chicken foot, and Mexican train; and memory and concentration games. The rules of these various games vary, but most involve emptying a player’s hand or blocking opponents from playing.
Dominoes are also often used as parts of Rube Goldberg machines, a type of complicated machine that uses multiple steps to accomplish a simple task. The most famous such example, which drew worldwide attention and a Guinness World Record, involved an artist who toppled a 131-foot tower of dominoes in a performance piece marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
When a domino hits the ground, it creates a chain reaction that results in other dominoes falling, sometimes creating enormous structures. An online video created by University of Toronto physicist Lorne Whitehead, for example, shows how 13 dominoes can knock over a structure one-and-a-half times their size. The video has over 11 million views and is considered one of the most popular examples of this effect on the web. The power of the domino is not only in its ability to create chains of destruction, but in its potential to inspire other people to take risks and make changes for the better. The message behind this is the same as in the popular business book “Domino Effect: How Tiny Changes Can Have a Big Impact.” This concept has been put into practice at Domino’s Pizza, which saw its customer complaints drop after CEO Tony Doyle changed the company’s culture by implementing new leadership training programs and speaking directly to employees about their problems.