Dominoes – A Wonder of the Day

Many people like to line up dominoes on end in long lines. Then, when one is tipped over, it can set off a chain reaction that causes the next and all of the others to tip over. This domino effect is a fun way to demonstrate how one small action can have much greater consequences than anticipated. But what exactly are dominoes? And how do they work? Today’s Wonder of the Day explores the answers to these questions and more.

Dominoes, also known as bones, cards, men or pieces are the individual square blocks in a domino set, which normally contains 28 tiles. They are usually twice as wide as they are tall and have a characteristic arrangement of spots, or pips, on each face. The pips are used to distinguish the different types of dominoes. They can be printed with numbers, letters, or symbols and may be blank or identically patterned on both sides. Most sets also have a border around the edges to enhance their appearance.

The most basic Western domino game involves two to four players. The dominoes are shuffled and then the players draw for the lead, which is determined by who holds the heaviest domino. This player then plays the first tile on the table, which must match the value of an adjacent exposed end of a domino already in play (i.e., one’s touch two’s or three’s touch five’s). The players continue to play their tiles in sequence until either a player goes out or the dominoes reach a state of “deadlock”.

Besides the traditional dominoes, other materials such as stones, marble, granite, soapstone, woods, metals and ceramic clay are sometimes used for sets. They are generally more expensive than polymer dominoes, but they provide a nicer feel and a more distinctive look. Often, the pips are inlaid or painted. The most common color for the pips is white, but some manufacturers produce dominoes with black or colored pips, as well as those with no pips at all.

For a more advanced domino experience, some players create curved lines of dominoes that are designed to form pictures when the chains tumble. They can also use dominoes to build 3D structures such as towers and pyramids. Dominoes are also popular as toys for children, who enjoy arranging them into lines and then knocking them over. For a fun way to practice math skills, students can build geometric figures with dominoes and measure the surface area of their creations.