Wonder of the Day: Dominoes


A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block with faces inlaid with dots resembling those on dice. A set contains 28 pieces and is used for games in which the goal is to knock over all of the pieces before your opponent. Also known as bones, cards, men, stones, tiles or spinners, dominoes have been around for centuries. Today, we are using them in a different way. They are serving as the inspiration for our Wonder of the Day.

Domino effect is the term for the chain reaction that occurs when one element of a system causes other elements to change, often in unexpected ways. This concept has been applied to business practices as well as physics. For example, when a team member does something that affects another team member, it can cause a domino effect in which everyone on the team needs to change their behavior.

In the early days of the steel industry, a company called Bethlehem Steel grew into one of the largest in the world. Its success was attributed to the domino effect. Company leader Edgar Schwab created a list of all the tasks that needed to be done, and ranked them according to their importance. Each day Schwab would select the most important task and work on it until it was completed. He referred to this first task as the “main domino,” and it was considered essential to the success of the entire company. The rest of the tasks on the list were referred to as secondary dominoes. These were still important but did not have the same impact as the main domino.

Then Schwab encouraged his employees to take an active role in the management of the company. He told them to follow the lead of the main domino and make sure all the secondary tasks got taken care of as well. This was a powerful message for employees and helped make the company successful.

Today, many people enjoy playing domino as a form of relaxation or entertainment. They can set up the dominoes in straight or curved lines, create grids that form pictures when they fall, or even build 3D structures like towers and pyramids. Whether you are just sitting down with the family to play a game or creating a beautiful piece of domino art, there is an amazing amount of energy in each individual domino.

Each domino has potential energy, which is its stored energy based on where it is standing upright. When you push on the first domino, this potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, or energy of motion. This kinetic energy is then transferred to the next domino, pushing it over and causing it to start its own chain reaction.

Lily Hevesh, who creates these mind-blowing domino installations for movies, TV shows and events, follows a similar process when she makes her creations. She first considers the theme or purpose of the installation, then brainstorms images and words that might help convey this. She then creates test versions of each part of the installation, ensuring that they work individually before she puts them all together.