The Domino Effect

A domino is a small rectangular block of wood or plastic that has one side bearing an arrangement of dots similar to those on dice and the other blank. It is used as a gaming object in a number of games that depend on the placement of pieces, sometimes called bones or men, so that they can all topple over in a row, as each piece causes the next to fall. A similar system of dominoes can be built with paper or cardboard. The word is also used as a metaphor for events that have unforeseen consequences, such as the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001.

A game of domino can be played with any number of players, but the usual form of play involves two or more opponents. Each player takes turns placing a domino edge to edge against another so that the adjacent faces are identical or form some specified total. Some games require that all tiles match, while others may only require that some tiles be present. A number of additional variants of the game are also played, often as solitaire or to circumvent religious proscriptions against playing cards.

The most famous of these games, and the one that has given domino its name, is a simple one in which a single tile is laid down and then all the other tiles are placed on it so that they cover it completely without any gaps. A game of this kind can be a very entertaining pastime, although some people have criticized it as being too monotonous and lacking any real strategy or skill.

There are many other types of games using dominoes, and it is possible to create very complicated structures with them. For example, some sets have the pieces arranged in 3-D shapes that can be stacked together. Other people create sand castles using the pieces, and still others use them to make art, such as drawings or paintings.

For Schwab, the key to success was focusing on his most important task first and refusing to move on to anything else until that one was done. He called this his “main domino.” He then prioritized the rest of his tasks each day, ranking them according to their impact. As each task was completed, Schwab threw the top of the stack over to start a chain reaction.

A person who writes a novel might consider the domino effect when developing his or her plot. Whether the writer works off the cuff or takes great care in composing an outline, a good story must have a compelling premise that ultimately leads to the most unexpected of consequences. The domino effect gives that unforeseen twist to the tale and helps it resonate with the reader.

A physicist at the University of Toronto has described how dominoes work. When a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy, or stored energy. When it falls, much of this energy is converted to kinetic energy, which causes the remaining dominoes in its line to fall as well. Some of these effects can be seen in action in the video below.