Dominoes and the Power of One Small Action to Cause a Large Effect

Dominoes are an apt metaphor for the power of one small action to cause a large effect. If you’re lucky enough to pick the right dominoes — those that will make a positive impact on your life and the lives of others, they can have a powerful ripple effect. Good dominoes are often challenging and require a large chunk of your time, but when you focus on them, they can help to propel you in the direction you want to go. They can also be a great way to break down bigger goals into smaller steps, making them easier to tackle.

Dominos are rectangular pieces that are marked with a series of dots or pips on one side and are blank or identically patterned on the other. They are most commonly made of ivory, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother-of-pearl), bone or a dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting white or black pips. Some sets are crafted from other natural materials, such as stone (e.g., marble or granite); metals (e.g., brass or pewter); ceramic clay; and even frosted glass or crystal.

The most popular use of dominoes is for positional games, where a player places a domino edge-to-edge against another such that the adjacent faces are either identical (e.g., a one’s touch a five’s) or form some specified total (e.g., six-to-five). This arrangement of dominoes is then arranged into chains or a “spike” and points are scored by the players when the exposed ends of two adjacent tiles match (e.g., a one’s touching a two’s or a three’s touching a four).

Lily Hevesh, 20, began playing with dominoes as a child and had a 28-piece set in her family home. She soon started collecting them, and now she makes a living as a professional domino artist, with more than 2 million YouTube subscribers watching her create mind-blowing domino setups. She follows a version of the engineering-design process when creating her creations, starting with considering a theme or purpose and brainstorming images or words to use on the dominoes.

When she sees a domino in a store, she looks for the one that has the most potential for creating an amazing setup. She then plans out a layout, calculating how many dominoes she will need for her design and drawing arrows to indicate the direction in which they should fall.

Domino art can be as simple or complex as you want, from straight lines and curved lines to grids that form pictures, stacked walls and pyramids. Those with the patience and attention to detail can create some truly stunning designs, and there are plenty of tutorials online to help get you started.

Dominoes can be a great way to learn about geometry and balance, as well as how physics applies to everyday situations. The energy created by a single domino can tip over tens of thousands of other dominoes. This shows that no matter how big a problem seems, it can always be broken down into smaller parts to make it more manageable.