Domino is a small, flat rectangular block that’s thumb-sized and either blank or marked with an arrangement of spots, like those on a die. Twenty-eight such blocks make up a complete set of dominoes. During a game, the pieces are arranged in lines and angular patterns, and when a player puts down one of them, it sets off a chain reaction that causes all the others to fall. A similar effect is the reason that dominoes can be stacked in long lines and used to form elaborate designs.
Dominoes have long been a popular children’s toy, as well as a versatile tool for creating artistic and mathematical designs. Some artists, architects and designers have even built structures using dominoes as the foundation. Many of us have watched satisfying videos of long chains of dominoes toppling until they reach the end.
The word “domino” has come to mean any event or action that triggers something bigger, often with catastrophic consequences. It’s also used as a phrase to describe an idea or scenario that seems to be out of control, or “going viral.” The term is especially common in business, where it describes a situation that begins with just one small action that triggers a cascade of events with dramatic, and sometimes disastrous, results.
In writing, a scene domino is a single element that relates to a larger part of a story. Depending on what kind of story you’re writing, each scene domino might represent a different point to illustrate a theme or statement. The important thing is to arrange the scene dominoes in a way that naturally influences the scenes that follow it.
Physicist Stephen Morris explains that when you stand a domino upright, it has potential energy, because of its position. When the first domino falls, much of that energy is converted to kinetic energy, which is transmitted to the next domino, and so on. This process continues as the dominoes tumble, one after the other, until they’re all in the right place.
Dominoes are usually made of plastic or a combination of wood and clay. They can be found in a variety of colors and sizes, but most are the same basic shape. The most common is a double-twelve or double-nine set, which contains 91 tiles. There are also a number of extended domino sets, which contain more specialized ends to accommodate additional types of games.
In a typical domino game, each player starts with seven or more of the dominoes. If they can’t play a domino, they pass the turn to another player. When they’re ready to continue, they pick a domino from the boneyard and add it to their set. If they can’t match the value of a previous domino, they pass again until they find a piece to play. The game is over when one player wins by playing all of their remaining tiles or when no players can continue. There are variations on this rule, however, including the draw game, in which players take turns picking a sleeping domino to add to their sets.