Domino, from the Latin domini, is a small, flat, rectangular block used as a gaming object. The word is also a surname and may refer to an individual, family, organization, or business. A domino set consists of multiple tiles, each bearing an arrangement of spots (also called pips) like those on a die on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other. Most common sets contain 28 pieces, although larger ones exist. The most popular type of domino play involves layout games, which are played by two or more players.
Some people are quite skilled at creating stunning domino layouts, and the most intricate designs can take several nail-biting minutes to fall. A physicist who specializes in dominoes explains how the process works: “When you stand a domino upright, it stores potential energy as it leans against the force of gravity. When the domino falls, much of this energy is converted to kinetic energy as it lands on other dominoes and causes them to tumble over.”
The concept of dominoes as a metaphor for events and actions that can lead to large-scale change can be found in many different fields. In a business context, it is often used to describe how changes to one aspect of a company can cause shifts in other areas, similar to how a single domino knocks over and destroys the rest of a row of bricks. The idiom domino effect is also sometimes applied to events in politics. In 1961, for example, President Dwight Eisenhower cited the falling domino principle when justifying America’s support of Ngo Dinh Diem’s government in South Vietnam.
In fiction, domino can be a useful device to create tension in a story. A domino plot, for instance, involves a character who starts an action that has unforeseen consequences. The writer can keep the reader guessing as to what will happen next by showing how one domino leads to another until a climactic outcome is revealed.
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