Dominoes are small, flat rectangular blocks that are used as gaming objects. Also known as bones, cards, men, pieces or tiles, dominoes are normally twice as long as they are wide and feature a line in the center that separates them into two square ends with different values (from six to none). The value of each end is represented by dots or spots. Each domino is usually marked with a number in the middle, which determines its rank or weight, or, in some cases, may be blank. A domino can be matched with another domino of the same rank to form a chain. Generally, each domino must be positioned so that its matching pair of ends touch fully and are not offset by more than one tile.
A domino set is used to play a variety of games including blocking, scoring, and drawing. Some games are adaptations of card games, while others were developed to circumvent religious restrictions on the use of cards.
For example, in the Block game of domino, each player starts with seven dominoes and places them down on a line that runs along a table or other flat surface. When a player can’t place a domino, they pass their turn and pick up the next piece in the row. In this way, a domino chain forms and whoever can’t place their final domino wins the game. A variant of the Block game, called the Draw game, is popular in some parts of the world and features a similar concept but with less dominoes initially taken by each player.
While playing the Block or Draw game, players often try to build larger and longer chains of dominoes. These are particularly exciting to watch, but it is important to remember that a single domino can easily break the chain and cause all the remaining dominoes to fall. This is the domino effect, and it can have many real-life applications.
Dominoes can also be used to make a variety of art, such as straight lines and curved lines that form pictures or words, stacked walls, or 3D structures like towers and pyramids. In some instances, these structures are used to highlight a specific event or occasion. For example, a giant domino was used to mark the first anniversary of the death of pop star Katy Perry in 2011.
Whether you are using dominoes to build an art piece or to play a game, they are an interesting way to learn about physics. The force of gravity is one of the main forces that causes a domino to fall, but more important than that are the other forces at work. Specifically, the fact that standing a domino upright gives it potential energy, or energy stored based on its position. Once a domino is knocked over, much of that energy is converted to kinetic energy, which then pushes the next domino until it too falls. This is very similar to how nerve impulses travel down a chain of neurons in the brain.