The Domino Effect

A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block, either blank or bearing from one to six pips (small dots that resemble those on dice): 28 such pieces make up a full set. The term is also used for a game played with such blocks, and for the lines and angular patterns that can be created with them.

A person who builds such structures is called a domino artist. The most intricate domino designs take hours, even days, to complete. But the end result is beautiful: the dominoes are arranged to fit together, and when you tap or push on one, the rest fall in a rhythmic cascade. It is the domino effect in action, and it has long been the hallmark of a great story.

Dominoes are typically grouped into suits, each representing a particular number: the suit of threes, for example, has tiles with 2, 3, and 5 on each end. Each tile has a different color, which helps in organizing and distinguishing them. Some sets also include a separate suit of zeros, with black or white pips to match the color of the other pips on each tile.

The most common commercially available dominoes are double-six and double-nine sets, each containing 28 pieces. Other sizes exist, and the larger sets are often used for longer games with more complex rules. Most domino games are based on a simple rule: a tile is placed edge to edge against another, and the open ends of the two tiles must either be identical or form some specified total.

Some dominoes are glued to prevent them from sliding, but this is not necessary for most games. In addition to the blocking and scoring games, dominoes can be laid down in a variety of layouts.

A physics professor once demonstrated the true power of dominoes in a video he made: He placed 13 tiles, each about an inch wide and only 1 millimeter thick, on a table. When he pushed down on the first, the entire row of tiles toppled with a force greater than the weight of each individual piece.

Several factors are required to create the amazing domino effect that you see in movies and at domino shows: careful sequencing, an understanding of the physical principles involved, and the help of gravity. But perhaps the most important ingredient is a great imagination.

In the business world, the domino effect refers to any kind of chain reaction that grows from a single event or decision. For example, if one employee has a problem at work, it can easily spread to other employees and ultimately affect the whole company. This can be a positive thing, such as when a CEO listens to employees’ concerns and makes changes to boost morale. But it can also be a negative thing, as when a company suffers a series of customer complaints that leads to poor service and lost revenue. That’s why it’s important for a business to have strong leadership and management skills, which can help stop the domino effect before it starts.