Day: March 11, 2024

How Dominoes Are Engineered

A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block, with one face bearing an arrangement of spots or pips similar to those used on dice. The other face is blank or identically patterned. Each domino belongs to one of several suits, usually based on the number of dots it has: the suit of threes, for example, consists of all tiles with three dots, while the suit of fours includes all four-dotted tiles.

A set of dominoes can be used for a variety of games, most of which fall into two categories: blocking games and scoring games. Blocking games require a player to build a line of dominoes across the table before the opponent can knock it down. The winner is the person whose remaining dominoes touch each other in the most places.

Dominoes are traditionally made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips. More recently, sets have been made of different natural materials, including stone (e.g., marble, granite or soapstone); other woods (such as ash, oak, redwood or cedar); metals (e.g. brass or pewter); ceramic clay; and even frosted glass or crystal. Such sets offer a more novel look and feel, but are generally much more expensive than those made of polymer material.

In the case of Domino’s, the company’s leadership took its cue from its own core values, one of which is “Champion Our Customers.” The previous CEO, David Brandon, worked diligently to get to the bottom of employee dissatisfaction and then listened to what they had to say. When Doyle became CEO, he maintained this open line of communication between the company and its employees.

Hevesh, a young woman who has created mind-blowing domino setups for movies and events such as the Katy Perry album launch, employs an engineering-design process when she creates her domino projects. She considers the theme or purpose of the installation, brainstorms images or words that might go with it, and then works out how to accomplish it using the rules of physics.

Once a domino has inertia, a tiny nudge is often enough to cause it to tip over. Once it does, much of its potential energy converts to kinetic energy, the energy of motion, and some of that energy is transmitted to the next domino in the chain. The cycle continues until the last domino is toppled.

Hevesh creates her massive domino installations by placing each individual tile in just the right place, a skill that requires careful observation and planning. A big part of the fun comes from watching the chains unfold as each tile is pushed over, but it also provides a unique perspective on how each piece fits into its environment. Seeing how each domino affects the surrounding ones helps Hevesh decide where to put the next one and whether or not to leave an opening for other players to place their tiles in the future.