A domino is a small rectangular game piece that has anywhere from 0 to 6 dots. Like playing cards and dice, dominoes are used to play games, but they can also be set up in a variety of ways to create art. When someone flicks a domino in the right way, it can cause hundreds or even thousands of others to fall. These dominoes can be arranged in straight or curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, or 3D structures such as towers and pyramids.

Dominoes are the inspiration for a concept called the domino effect, which states that if one action has a positive impact on something else, that influence will spread to other related actions in a predictable manner. For example, if you start exercising regularly and lose weight, your new fitness habits will lead to other positive changes that may eventually result in you being healthier overall.

The term domino is used to describe any small rectangular block with a pattern of dots or letters that resembles those on a die. A common type of domino is a wooden tile with numbers, letters, or Arabic numerals that are arranged in two rows of six on each side. The word is also sometimes used to refer to a game played with these blocks, including the rules for playing it and how it is scored.

A person who sets up and then knocks over a series of dominoes in an intricate design is known as a domino artist. The most famous domino artist, Hevesh, has created projects that involve more than 300,000 dominoes. Her largest setups can take several nail-biting minutes to fall. Hevesh credits science for her amazing creations, but she says that there’s one physical phenomenon in particular that’s essential to a good domino project: gravity.

When a domino is set up, it has a lot of potential energy stored up in its edges and the friction between the tiles and the surface they’re on. This energy is converted into kinetic energy as the domino slides against the next tile, and then into heat and sound when it hits the ground. As the first domino falls, much of this kinetic energy is transferred to the next domino, sending it crashing into the ground and setting off a chain reaction.

While some people enjoy playing dominoes for fun, most use them as a tool to express themselves artistically and teach themselves about the laws of physics. The best place to start is by figuring out what kind of domino you want to make, and then creating a plan for how it will fall. For example, if you’re making a straight line of dominoes, draw arrows on a piece of paper that show where each domino should go and how it will connect to the ones that are already on the table. When you’re satisfied with your diagram, set up the first domino and gently touch it with your finger. If it doesn’t fall, try again with a little more pressure. Over time, you’ll learn how much force is needed to get the domino to fall.