The Domino Effect


Domino is a small, rectangular block of wood, bone or plastic used as a gaming device. Also known as bones, pieces, men or stones, domino is often played by two people and a variety of games can be used. Many of these involve emptying one’s hand while blocking opponents play, some involve scoring, and others help children learn to recognize numbers.

The most common domino game is a simple two-player variant called five-up. Each player starts with a double-six set of dominoes (28 tiles). These are shuffled and stacked face down to form a pile called the stock or boneyard. Players take turns drawing seven dominoes from the stock. Each domino must have a matching end to one already on the table or must form a specified total. The first person to complete a five-up or three-up wins.

Other domino games include bergen and muggins, which count the number of pips on each domino in the losing player’s hands. In some versions of these games, a player can score more points than his or her opponent by attaching a new domino to one end of the already-played dominoes.

A domino can be made from many materials, including polymers such as PVC and melamine, which are durable and lightweight. But the most classic dominoes are handmade, using natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood like ebony. Natural materials are often expensive, and the resulting dominoes have a luxurious look.

When a domino is pushed over, it generates a pulse of energy that travels to the next domino, which then falls and triggers another pulse. This sequence continues until all of the dominoes have fallen. The energy that a falling domino releases is equal to the amount of force that triggered it.

Just as the smallest domino can cause a chain reaction of thousands of larger and more complex dominoes, so too can the actions of a single person influence the behavior of an entire society or culture. This phenomenon is called the Domino Effect, and it is a powerful force that can be harnessed to change the world for the better.

An analogy to the Domino Effect can be found in a series of events that resulted from the assassination of Prime Minister Diem of South Vietnam in early November 1963. That event, in turn, led to the escalation of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, which became a source of tension with the Soviet Union and its allies. President Eisenhower cited this domino theory to justify his military intervention in Vietnam, and the phrase soon spread to describe any situation where a small trigger causes a larger cascade of events.

To understand this process, consider an experiment with a group of dominoes. Place them upright on a flat surface and barely touch the first domino with your finger. Observe the results. Then, reset the dominoes and push just enough that they move. Repeat the test several times and notice how each time a domino is pushed over, the remaining dominoes fall at the same rate. This is because each domino has a certain inertia, which is the tendency of a solid object to resist movement unless there is an outside force on it.