Dominoes are small rectangular game pieces that look like dice. They have a number of white spots, or “pips,” on each end. The pips vary in number from 0 to six, and traditional sets of dominoes have one unique piece for every combination of pips from one to six spots.
They store potential energy based on their position, and they’re able to convert this stored potential energy into kinetic energy as they fall. This is how they create a chain reaction that causes them to fall one domino after another.
When a domino falls, it changes its energy from potential to kinetic, and it moves forward at a constant speed without losing energy along the way. This is the same process that occurs when nerve impulses are sent through your body.
A falling domino is a simple model for understanding the way that neurons function. The nudge that it receives from the touch of your finger causes it to fall at a certain speed, and then travels in only one direction.
The domino is a simple, common object that inspires wonder. It’s also a metaphor for the way that physics works.
Physicist Stephen Morris, at the University of Toronto, says that when you hold a domino upright against the force of gravity, you store some potential energy in it. But when it falls, that potential energy is converted into kinetic energy and movement, causing the domino to topple.
You can test how the domino changes its energy by holding it in front of a ruler. Put a few dominoes on the ruler and try to make them fall at the same rate. You might want to touch each domino with your finger as you do this, to see if they all fall at the same speed.
After a few minutes, take the dominoes out of the ruler and set them on a table. Now, try to push them a little bit farther forward using only your finger. Repeat this several times until you can get them to fall faster.
When you do, watch how they change their energy, and watch what happens to the rest of the dominoes that you’ve pushed a little farther forward. You might even be able to see the nudge that caused the first domino to fall.
Lily Hevesh began playing with dominoes at age 9. She liked lining them up in straight or curved lines, flicking the first domino and watching it fall.
Her hobby evolved into a career as a domino artist, and she now posts videos of her work online. Her YouTube channel has more than 2 million subscribers.
She creates spectacular domino setups for films, TV shows, and events. She’s even helped to launch a popular pop singer’s album.
While the domino is an interesting and fun game, it’s important to remember that it can cause serious accidents. This is why, when designing plants or transportation vehicles that contain hazardous chemicals, it’s important to account for the possibility of domino effects.