A domino is a small, flat, rectangular block used as a gaming object. It is sometimes referred to as a bone, card, piece, men, or stone, and may be marked with an arrangement of dots, called pips, on one side or blank. A domino set typically includes 28 tiles that can be arranged to form a variety of games.
Dominoes are often played on a board, but they can also be positioned in a line or other shape. Each player draws a certain number of dominoes, which they then place on the table. Each time a player places a domino, the next piece in the chain must touch both ends of the tile. This creates a long chain that each player adds to in turn, and each person takes turns placing the dominoes in new patterns.
Some people enjoy setting up a long line of dominoes, then flicking them over to create a stunning display. One domino artist, Lily Hevesh, has created amazing displays for movies and even a concert by Katy Perry. But Hevesh’s projects are more than just a pretty setup; they are based on some basic principles of physics.
“When a domino is stood upright, it stores energy based on its position,” explains Stephen Morris, a physicist at the University of Toronto. When you knock over a domino, that stored energy is converted to kinetic energy that causes the next domino in line to fall. Hevesh says this principle is key to her designs.
The term “domino” is also used to refer to the entire series of actions that lead to a result, such as when a domino is dropped onto a stack of cards that then falls over and wins a hand of poker. The term can also be used to describe a series of events, such as when a domino is drawn and the holder of that tile then places a second domino that triggers a game-ending event.
The word domino derives from the Latin dominus, meaning master or supreme. The word was likely coined in the 16th century to refer to the fact that a single domino could cause a series of events that were all linked together, similar to how a single tile on a table might start a chain reaction. In English, the word became synonymous with a dice game in the 17th century and the modern form of the word first appeared in French around 1750. Earlier, it had been used to refer to a long, hooded cloak worn together with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade. It also denoted a cape worn by a priest over his or her surplice. This sense is reflected in the design of some domino pieces, which are printed with a pattern that resembles a priest’s cape.