The Physics of Dominoes

If you have ever played a domino game, you have seen firsthand the power of this little square of wood or plastic with a line down the center. That line separates the domino into two squares that are each marked by a number of dots (called pips)—in the most common version, one to six. The pips on each end give the domino its value and determine which side can be played first in a chain of dominoes that grows longer and longer with each new tile.

Dominoes are not only a fun family activity—they also help children develop their motor skills. But even adults can enjoy the physics behind these small rectangles, which are capable of knocking over things one-and-a-half times their size. For example, in a video, University of British Columbia physicist Lorne Whitehead lined up 13 dominoes, each only five millimeters tall, and watched them topple with the nudge of just one.

The same basic principle applies to the chain reactions in domino shows, where builders set up hundreds of dominoes in careful sequence—then, with a nudge of just one, they watch them fall in domino-style. In these amazing setups, the dominoes are often arranged in three dimensions—across, up and down. The builder then tries to create the most impressive domino effect or reaction for a live audience of fans.

Dominoes have long been a popular toy and there are countless games that can be played with them. Some of the most famous are tic tac toe, dominoes and chinese checkers. But dominoes are also used to teach math and science, as well as in art projects and for artistic or architectural displays.

Using Domino Cloud, developers can take a snapshot of their code when it runs and link it to the results produced—so they can track changes, detect conflicts and ensure code reproducibility. The platform also provides governance capabilities—isolation, single sign-on and comprehensive role-based access controls, for instance—to ensure enterprise-grade security.

Hevesh is known for her mind-blowing domino installations, and she follows a version of the engineering-design process when creating her creations. She starts by considering the theme or purpose of an installation and brainstorming images or words she might want to use. She then makes test versions of each section of the setup and films them in slow motion. After each piece works perfectly, she builds it up—first the biggest 3-D sections. Then she adds flat arrangements, and finally the lines of dominoes that connect all the sections together.

Like the domino, a good story requires carefully positioned scenes that build on each other to keep the reader engaged and moving forward. But if the writer of a novel—or the director of a movie or television show—doesn’t outline the plot ahead of time, the results can be disastrous. Scenes may be inserted that are at the wrong angle or don’t have enough logical impact to push the plot forward. Luckily, there are tools such as Scrivener to help writers plot and organize their work before they start writing.