How Dominoes Create Waves in Your Life


A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block, typically 28 in number, marked on both sides with dots resembling those on dice. It is used to play games in which one tile causes the rest of the dominoes to fall over, either by pushing them off the edge of a table or by placing them across one another. Dominoes also serve as building blocks for many other kinds of structures, including art and architecture.

In a game of domino, players take turns placing tiles on the table positioned so that each has at least one end touching another tile or the edge of the board. Each tile has a different number, which indicates which suit it belongs to (two suits are traditional: one with numbers, and the other with blanks, or 0s).

Once dominoes begin falling, their potential energy converts to kinetic energy, or motion. Some of this energy is transferred to the next domino, providing a push that knocks it over as well. Eventually, all the dominoes will fall over in a chain reaction.

When a person makes a small change that creates waves in his or her life, it is called a domino action. A simple example is making your bed every morning, as Admiral William H. McRaven urged University of Texas at Austin graduates to do in 2014. A domino action might also be making a phone call, writing a letter, or volunteering your time to help an elderly neighbor or stranger.

The concept of a domino effect can also be applied to fiction, particularly in how events impact the narrative of a story. For example, if a character uncovers a clue to a mystery in the first scene of a novel but this discovery is not reflected in later scenes, something may be wrong with the story. Similarly, if the first scene of a book introduces the heroine’s family, but in later scenes their storylines diverge or they do not have enough tension, the story may not be compelling.

Hevesh uses a variation of the engineering-design process to create her mind-blowing domino creations. Rather than starting with detailed plans, Hevesh brainstorms images and words related to the theme of her installation. She then tests individual sections of her designs to make sure they work correctly.

Then she begins putting them together, starting with the largest 3-D sections of her arrangements, followed by flat arrangements. She makes test versions of her setups and films them in slow motion, so she can correct them quickly if they are not working as expected.