Domino is a small rectangular block of wood or plastic, each end of which contains a number resembling those on dice. The most common domino set includes 28 unique tiles. The word domino also refers to a game played with these tiles and a system of rules governing their placement, which can vary from set to set. A similar meaning has emerged for the word domino in political theory, where it describes a country’s expected reaction to events in another place, such as Indochina.
Physicist Stephen Morris, who studies mechanical systems, says that when you push a domino upright, it has potential energy based on its position. That energy converts into kinetic energy when it falls, pushing on the next domino and creating a chain reaction.
When a domino falls, it has a particular shape that allows the edges to slip against one another and the surface they’re on, creating friction. That friction generates heat and sound, which can knock over even more dominoes.
The speed of a falling domino depends on its size, the force that pushed it and how far the next domino is from the starting point. This is similar to the way that nerve impulses travel through a neuron in your body – the larger the brain cell, the faster the signal can move down its length.
Dominoes are commonly used in games of chance, where players place dominoes on a table and then draw lines between the dots that form a specific total. In some games, each player must play all of their tiles before the other player can continue. In other games, each player aims to get the highest total on their remaining dominoes. The first player to reach this goal wins the game.
For some players, the act of arranging dominoes can become art as well. The pieces can be arranged in straight lines or into more elaborate shapes, such as curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall or 3D structures like towers and pyramids. The pieces can also be glued together to create structures that stand vertically rather than lying flat on the table.
Before a game or hand of domino begins, the tiles are shuffled. Typically, the tiles are placed on the table with their faces down, so they can’t be seen by the other players. This collection of shuffled tiles is known as the boneyard.
Before playing a game of domino, it’s important to set the rules for the game. Most people will choose to play positional games where each player places a domino edge-to-edge against another, forming a specified total. The winning partner is the person whose total is the highest. This means that the winner of a game will have a maximum of 12 or, in some cases, more than 55 dominoes left at the end. Other types of domino games include counting and racing. Some are team-based, where players compete against other teams to win.