Dominoes are small rectangular game pieces with a number of dots on each end. They’re used in various forms of gambling and table games.
When a domino falls, it creates a chain reaction that knocks down others. The process is similar to how nerve impulses travel in your body, only instead of a single cell, it’s a line of dominoes.
There are many variations on how dominoes are made, including material and shape. Some are made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood such as ebony. Some have contrasting black or white pips, which can either be inlaid or painted.
Other sets are made from frosted glass or crystal and feature a more unique look. These can be much more expensive than traditional polymer sets, but they often feel more substantial.
The most common domino set, known as a double-six, has 28 tiles with numbers varying from six pips on each end to none or blank. Some sets have two different values for each tile, and some have a single value, which is called a “heavy” or “light” tile.
Physicist Stephen Morris of the University of Toronto has studied the relationship between falling dominoes and gravity. He says that when you stand a domino upright, it stores potential energy. When it falls, it converts that stored energy into kinetic energy. This kinetic energy is then transferred to another domino, creating the chain reaction that leads to its fall.
It turns out that the first domino that falls has a tiny amount of energy stored in it, and this tiny amount of energy is enough to push the next domino over its tipping point. This triggered the domino effect, and it’s also inspired the term for the way one action can lead to other changes in behavior.
In a series of experiments, Hevesh and her team were able to show that the amount of potential energy a domino has when it’s standing up can be changed as it falls, leading to the domino effect.
Hevesh says that this ability to change potential energy is what makes dominoes so interesting. The same principle applies to other things we do, like eating and working out.
For example, in a 2012 study by researchers at Northwestern University, people who decreased their sedentary leisure time were also able to reduce their daily fat intake. The result was that they started exercising more, a new habit that led to a cascade of other related habits.
The resulting changes in behavior, combined with other behavioral factors, such as social support or the need for security, led to new beliefs about themselves and their ability to maintain their homes, an identity-based habit that is often built through dominoes.
The domino effect has been studied extensively in safety-related accident analysis, where it is referred to as a “first-level” effect. It is important to note, however, that a number of accidents can occur without a domino effect, and determining whether an accident involved a domino effect can be challenging.