How Dominoes Are Engineered


A domino is a small rectangular block of wood or plastic, marked on one face with an arrangement of dots resembling those on a die. Dominoes are used in games of chance and strategy. They are also used to make patterns and sculptures. There are many games that use dominoes, and the rules of each game vary somewhat from place to place. A domino has inertia and resists motion unless pushed or pulled, but the slightest force can cause it to fall over. When a domino falls, it transmits energy to the next domino, which in turn provides a push for the next. This continues until the whole line has fallen over.

In some cases, the first domino to fall creates a chain reaction that can be stopped only when all the other dominoes are covered. The effect is similar to a nerve impulse in the body, but faster and more predictable because the chain cannot be broken.

When Hevesh starts a new set of dominoes, she follows her own version of the engineering-design process. She considers what she wants to achieve, then brainstorms images and words that might convey this goal. From there, she creates a rough sketch of her design.

She then turns to her collection of materials, which includes clay and various woods, and selects a color scheme that she believes will work. She also determines the size of the piece and begins drawing on it. The final design is a combination of both geometric and organic shapes.

While most people associate dominoes with the classic game of twenty-one, there are many other games that can be played using a set. These include a variety of blocking and scoring games, as well as some that use the tiles in different ways, for example, to circumvent religious prohibitions against playing cards.

Some games allow players to buy extra dominoes from the stock (a set of all the dominoes that have not been played). Adding these to the current set of tiles changes the total number of possible combinations and can change the outcome of a game.

Most domino sets consist of fifty-two tiles, each with a matching pair of ends. These are marked on one face with an arrangement of dots, called pips, and are blank or identically patterned on the other. Some sets have additional pips, and larger ones are often “extended” to increase the maximum number of unique end matches.

When a player plays a domino, it must be placed so that its two matching ends touch, with the top or bottom of the tile touching the surface on which it is being laid. In most cases, the tile must be placed crosswise to a double (unless it is a spinner) or lengthwise to a single. This way, the resulting chain develops its characteristic snake-like shape. In some games, a tile played to a double must be crossed over it in order for the play to be valid.