Dominoes are a game played by placing one tile perpendicular to another with matching ends touching, forming a line of dominoes that gradually increases in length. The dominoes have a value, normally in the form of dots or spots, on either side and can be blank, one, three, five, seven, eleven, thirteen, or more. They are typically twice as long as they are wide.
The first player, determined by drawing lots or by who holds the heaviest hand, places the first tile on the table. Each subsequent player must choose a domino from their hand that matches the end of the previous tile in value and then place it on the table, positioning it so that its matching end is touching that particular part of the previous tile. If a double is played, the second domino must be placed at right angles to the first, i.e., cross-ways to it. This develops the a snake-like shape of the domino chain.
A player must continue to add tiles until they are unable to do so any longer or until they win by playing all of their remaining dominoes. Players may also draw additional dominoes from the boneyard if they can’t match any of their remaining tiles with the ones that have already been laid on the table.
Physicist Stephen Morris explains the domino effect: “When you pick up a domino and stand it upright, it’s lifting against gravity, which gives it potential energy, or stored energy based on its position. As soon as you drop it, the potential energy changes to kinetic energy, or energy of motion, which is what causes domino after domino to fall.”
Dominoes are also used for other purposes such as a means of learning how to count or as art pieces. They can be arranged to create straight lines, curved lines, grids that form pictures, and 3D structures such as towers or pyramids. These structures are often called Domino Art.
Another interesting use of dominoes is the Domino Effect, which refers to a change in one behavior that causes a chain reaction in other related behaviors. This is the principle behind a 2012 study from Northwestern University that found that when people decreased their amount of sedentary leisure time each day, they naturally started to make other healthier choices as well. In other words, one healthy choice led to another, just like the way that a domino can knock over the next.”
Dominoes are traditionally made from a variety of natural materials including bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, and dark hardwood such as ebony. Other materials such as metal, marble, ceramic clay, and frosted glass have been used as well. In general, these sets tend to feel a little heavier than polymer-based sets and are more expensive. Moreover, these natural sets tend to be more visually striking and to have more of a tactile feel. However, they can also be more difficult to read and can require extra effort to identify the pips on the individual dominoes.