The Domino Effect

The domino is a small rectangular wooden or plastic block that has one or more squares marked by dots resembling those on dice. A domino may also refer to a game played with these blocks or to a costume consisting of a long hooded cloak worn together with a mask at a carnival or masquerade. The word domino also has a figurative meaning: a series of events that start with one small step and have broader, sometimes catastrophic, consequences. We’ve all seen those amazing videos of someone tipping a single domino ever-so-slightly, which causes thousands of others to fall in a beautiful, rhythmic cascade. That is an example of the “domino effect.”

Hevesh isn’t knocking over anything that big, but she does make mind-blowing domino creations. When she starts working on an installation, she thinks about its theme or purpose and brainstorms images or words that relate to it. Then she starts putting the pieces together, starting with the biggest 3-D sections and then adding flat arrangements. She tests each section separately to see how it works before moving on to the final assembly.

Dominoes are often stacked on end in long lines, and the first domino to be tipped over must be spaced so that it can be followed by the rest of the line. If done properly, the entire chain can be tipped over in a smooth, flowing sequence of events. Dominoes can be arranged in all sorts of patterns, including straight lines, curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, and even 3D structures like towers and pyramids. Some of these are used to create artwork, while others are used for games.

A domino is generally twice as long as it is wide, which makes it easier to stack them up on top of each other when not in use. The squares on each face are marked by dots resembling those found on dice, and each domino has a different number of spots, or “values,” on each end, from six to none or blank. Increasing the number of ends increases the value of each domino, and different sets have a maximum value.

When a domino is tipped, it passes its potential energy to the next domino, which becomes kinetic energy and provides the push to bring it down. This energy travels on to the rest of the dominoes in the chain, and they continue to fall in a sequence until all the pieces have been pushed over.

The domino effect can be found in real life, too. For example, when a patient in the hospital acquires an infection that may be caused by a medical professional’s negligence, it can cause other infections to spread throughout the facility. These are called nosocomial infections, and they can have disastrous consequences for the patient’s health. It’s the same kind of domino effect that is often referred to when discussing politics or business: one action can have a wide-reaching impact on all involved.