Dominoes are small rectangular blocks with a flat surface that is either blank or marked by dots resembling those on dice. They are used to play a number of games in which the aim is to line up dominoes end to end so that the exposed ends match, with the numbers on each domino showing. The game is played by two or more players. A player is awarded points when the exposed ends of the dominoes sum to a multiple of five or three.
The word domino comes from the Latin dominum, meaning ‘little master’, and in medieval Europe, it was used to describe a powerful ruler. The term is now mostly used for a set of small rectangular blocks, often with a matching number of exposed ends, which are used to play a variety of games. The word may also refer to the game itself or a series of events that may be expected to follow as a result of one event.
A domino effect is a chain reaction that occurs when one event causes another to occur. For example, a car accident that takes the life of someone can cause legal and social dominoes to fall that lead to bank takeovers and the closing of credit unions. A domino effect can also be used to describe the way that one problem tripped up other problems, such as an illness that caused employees to quit their jobs.
In the game of domino, the objective is to score points by completing a row of dominoes by playing one in turn. Each domino must touch the ends of those already on the table – the ones touching the left hand side of the field, and the others at the right. The scoring version of this game is called 5s and 3s, or simply fives and threes.
Dominoes can be used to make art, with straight lines that form pictures when they fall or curved lines and grids that are formed when they’re stacked up. Artists who create these domino sets use a sort of engineering-design process to plan out their designs. They start by thinking about the theme or purpose of their creation, then sketch out a design and calculate how many dominoes they’ll need to complete it.
As a physics professor at the University of Toronto, Stephen Morris explains that when a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy because it’s resisting the pull of gravity. However, when a domino falls, that potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, or the energy of motion. The kinetic energy is transmitted to the next domino, which pushes it over as well. The process continues until all the dominoes have fallen.
As a writer, it’s important to understand the domino effect when you’re creating your story. If your character is doing something that is immoral, such as shooting a stranger or having an affair, you have to give readers enough motivation or reason to allow them to keep liking your hero even though the action runs counter to societal norms.