Dominoes are a classic childhood toy that have stood the test of time. They’re fun to set up in a straight or curved line, flick and watch the whole thing come tumbling down. But these small squares of wood are much more powerful than we realize. According to a 1983 study, a domino that’s about 5 millimeters tall and only 1 millimeter thick can knock down objects one-and-a-half times its size. This means a single domino can knock over a statue more than three feet tall and weighing 100 pounds!
Lily Hevesh first started playing with dominoes when she was 9. “My grandparents had the classic 28-pack,” she says. “I loved lining them up in a straight or curved line and flicking the first one.” Now, at 20, Hevesh is a professional domino artist who creates spectacular setups for movies, TV shows, and events—including a Katy Perry album launch. She also has a YouTube channel with more than 2 million subscribers.
A domino is a rectangular tile with a line down the center that separates its ends into two squares. Each end is engraved with a number of spots called pips. There are a variety of games that can be played with dominoes, but the most common type of play is called layout games. These games are characterized by placing dominoes edge to edge in such a way that the adjacent tiles match either in number of pips (to form a suit) or some other specified total.
Most domino sets have a variety of different types of tiles, and some even have duplicates that can be used as matching cards. A typical domino set has one unique piece for each of the numbers from one to six, although larger sets exist that contain more than 28 tiles. When playing a game with a large number of dominoes, it can be difficult to tell which tiles are identical if they have the same color or pips. To address this issue, some large dominoes have more readable Arabic numerals on their pips.
Another popular type of domino game is to place a piece on the table and then draw a line from it to another piece on the table. Then, players must select a domino from the boneyard that matches this piece. This type of game is similar to the popular card game Concentration and was once played in some areas as a way to circumvent religious proscriptions against playing cards.
Dominoes have a lot in common with the “domino effect,” which is the notion that if one action has a positive impact on a certain behavior, it will trigger a chain reaction and cause a shift in related behaviors. For example, studies have shown that when people decrease their sedentary leisure activities, they may also reduce their dietary fat intake as a natural side effect.
This is the kind of thinking that Domino’s CEO Tom Monaghan employs in his pizza restaurants. He opened his first store in Ypsilanti, Michigan in 1967, and he knew that the key to success would be getting his pizzas to customers quickly. That’s why he prioritized locations near college campuses—and it worked! Domino’s now has more than 200 stores.