The Domino Effect


Dominos are small rectangular wood or plastic blocks, typically 28 in number. Each face is either blank or has a series of dots resembling those on dice. They are used for playing a variety of games, both casual and competitive, throughout the world. The word domino is also a verb meaning to place one in front of another, or in any other way to control the action of an event or process.

Dominoes are a popular tool for teaching children counting, numbers, and patterns. But they are also used to help develop logical thinking, strategic planning, and problem-solving skills. The domino effect is a principle that states that when one behavior changes it activates a chain reaction and causes shifts in related behaviors. For example, people who decrease the amount of time they spend watching TV or eating mindlessly often cut back on fat consumption as a natural side effect.

Lily Hevesh, a physics student at the University of Toronto, began playing with dominoes when she was 9 years old. Her grandparents had a classic 28-pack of dominoes, and she loved setting them up in straight or curved lines. Now, Hevesh is a professional domino artist, creating spectacular setups for movies and events. She has over 2 million YouTube subscribers and has created some of the most elaborate domino displays in history.

She has learned that there are many ways to set up a domino chain. One of the most important principles is to always play a tile that has a free end (the side that does not touch another tile) on it. This will create a chain that increases in length as other players add tiles to it. When the chain reaches a point that no player can continue, play ends and the winner is determined by counting the total number of pips remaining in each loser’s hand or game.

Stephen Morris, a physicist at the University of Toronto, says that when you stand a domino upright, it has potential energy. This is because it is lifted against the force of gravity. When you nudge the first domino, much of this potential energy is converted to kinetic energy—the energy that causes it to fall and initiate a chain reaction.

Hevesh uses this principle to guide her own work as a domino artist. She creates test versions of each section of an intricate display to see how the pieces fit together and how they will interact with each other when the final version is complete. She also checks that each piece is positioned correctly.

She has discovered that the most effective way to manage tasks is to break them down into good dominoes, or “sub-tasks,” that can be completed easily. This may include breaking a long-term goal down into smaller goals, or outlining and creating a financial plan in multiple steps. Each domino in the chain must be completed before moving on to the next. By doing so, the task can be completed in a short amount of time with minimal effort.