If you’re a fan of the popular board game, you might be familiar with the term “domino effect.” It refers to a series of events that begin with one small trigger and ultimately lead to much bigger—and sometimes even catastrophic—consequences. But the domino effect is not only about a chain reaction that begins with one small event, but also can describe any action that leads to unforeseen consequences.
Lily Hevesh was 9 years old when her grandparents gave her a classic 28-piece set of dominoes. From that point on, she was hooked. She loved arranging the dominoes into long, straight or curved lines and then tipping the first one ever so slightly. The rest would then fall in a rhythmic cascade. Today, Hevesh is a professional domino artist who builds intricate constructions for movies, TV shows and events, including an album launch for Katy Perry. She has also established a successful YouTube channel where she shares her love of domino art with millions of fans.
Dominoes can be stacked on end to create very complex designs, such as a grid that forms pictures when it falls, a 3D structure or even walls. The best domino builders use a combination of skill, physics and mathematics to plan out their tracks. Then, they use tools like a drill press, radial arm saw, belt sander and welder to build the structure. The most talented and skilled domino artists can create a track that is more than 100 pieces tall with the simplest of tools.
Although the word domino is often used as a verb, the name actually comes from a Latin phrase that means “to arrange.” The first recorded usage of the word came in the 17th century. It was then that it became popular in the English-speaking world as a term for a type of game played with a set of small rectangular blocks, each bearing either blanks or dots resembling those on dice. The word has also been used as a synonym for the set of rules governing such games.
Aside from playing dominoes, many other games are based on the principle of a domino effect. These games include a variation of Concentration in which you match the ends of two tiles to form a line or angular pattern, and an early version of baseball. In a political context, the domino theory posits that Communist expansion in one country will eventually cause the other countries to ally with it.
In the 1950s, the American president Dwight Eisenhower used this theory during a press conference to explain America’s policy of containment in Indochina. The domino theory was an effective strategy for slowing the spread of Communism in Asia and helped to bring about the end of the Cold War. It is also a useful concept for writers to consider as they plot their novels. Plotting a novel often comes down to one simple question: What will happen next? Thinking about the domino effect can help a writer plot out their story in a compelling way.