Traditionally made of ivory, bone, or dark hardwood, dominoes have a long history. These rectangular pieces of rigid material are often used in a variety of games, but are best known as a variant of playing cards. They are divided into two squares, called “ends,” and each tile consists of 0 to 6 pips.

A domino is used to play a number of games, including solitaire, trick-taking, and 5s-and-3s. In the first of these games, the objective is to score as many points as possible by matching five or three tiles. A domino can be played on its own or with other objects such as cards or dice. A domino can be arranged in a row or lined up to make interesting shapes.

In other domino games, the player tries to knock the others down, or “tip them,” to form a chain reaction that will eventually topple the entire set. This can be a lot of fun! Whether you’re playing online or with friends, dominoes can be a great way to have fun.

There are also traditional Chinese domino games, such as Pai Gow, and Che Deng, which require no matching of tiles. Other popular domino variants include 5s-and-3s, which is a scoring game; Concentration, which requires the total number of pips to be twelve; and Hector’s Rules, which is a popular version in Singapore.

Most domino sets contain between 28 and 55 tiles. In addition to the number of tiles, each domino is marked with the number of pips. Some of these larger sets use Arabic numerals instead of pips.

The first recorded reference to the word “domino” appeared in 1771 in the Dictionnaire de Trevoux. Its origins are unclear, but it likely refers to a crude woodcut on paper that was popular among French peasants.

By the mid-18th century, dominoes were being imported into England and Italy. Some of them were made of ivory or dark hardwood, while others were made of silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell. In the mid-1800s, they were being used for positional games. They were also brought to England by French prisoners of war.

The popularity of dominoes spread to other countries, including Austria and Spain. The United States also became interested in dominoes in the 1890s. During the Cold War, domino theory influenced US foreign policy. It argued that a country that became communist would influence the actions of its neighbors. The administration of President Eisenhower used the idea to explain the intervention of the Franco government in Spain, and to argue for the need to contain communism in Southeast Asia.

Dominoes have been used in several scientific studies, including a study of nerve cells. When a domino falls, it’s like firing a neuron. The impulse travels along a single path. There is no loss of energy as it travels. Unlike a nerve impulse, a domino’s pulse is constantly moving, and there is no difference in the speed of the pulse based on the size of the triggering signal.