How Do Dominoes Work?

You’ve likely seen videos of a long chain of dominoes toppling in slow motion. They are satisfying to watch, but how do they work?

A domino (also known as a bone, card, men, or pieces) is a rectangular tile marked with an arrangement of dots on one face and blank or identically patterned on the other. The identifying marks are called “pips,” and they range from six to none or zero. Dominoes are typically twice as long as they are wide, which makes them easy to stack and re-stack after use. They may also have a ridge or line down the center to divide them into two squared faces, which are then labeled “ones” and “twos.”

The word domino is most probably derived from Latin dominus (meaning master of the house) or dominie (master of school). In the early 19th Century, it was used in Britain for the black and white hood worn by Christian priests in winter, which led to its use for a type of hat and then a term for an English schoolmaster. The game arrived in America from France toward the end of that same era (possibly via French prisoners) and became very popular in inns and taverns.

In order to play a domino game, you must set up the dominoes on the table so that their exposed ends touch: Ones touch twos, and fives touch fours. If the dots on both sides of the first double total any multiple of five, you score points by laying additional dominoes in the same manner and counting them.

Each time a domino is played, it adds to the energy of the chain until one domino finally falls and the chain stops. Some of the energy of that domino, however, is converted to kinetic energy and is transferred to the next domino in the chain until it is overturned as well. Then the cycle starts all over again.

Creating dominoes and writing stories require the same kind of logic: The scenes that advance the story must be spaced correctly so that they don’t feel too long (heavy on details or minutiae) or too short at moments of discovery or at plot points. Like the domino cascade, the reader will want to see the next scene pretty quickly.

In addition to its core business of pizza and other food products, Domino’s has diversified into other markets such as restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, and hotels. The company employs more than 145,000 people worldwide. Its headquarters are located in Ypsilanti, Michigan. As of 2013 its market share was around 7%. The company has a reputation for quality and its brand is well-known. It is considered a global leader in the fast-food industry. The company is also a prominent sponsor of the American pizza championships. Its pizza is sold in more than 70 countries. It is a publicly-held company. Its stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol DOMI.