Creating Mind-Blowing Domino Installations

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The word domino comes from the Italian for “flip,” and in English means a large flat tile marked with numbers, used to play games such as baccarat and poker. The game is played by arranging tiles in a line or rectangle, and then placing one on top of another to form a chain reaction. The last tile left standing creates the point or “domino” for which the player scores. The tiles are usually marked with a value on each of the four sides (also known as ends), and the value is determined by the number of dots, or “pips,” that it has.

There are many different types of domino games. Some involve blocking other players’ play while scoring points. Others are based on skill, such as domino solitaire. Still others replicate card games that were once popular to circumvent religious prohibitions against playing cards.

Lily Hevesh started collecting dominoes when she was 9 years old and loved setting them up in a straight or curved line. Today, the 20-year-old has more than 2 million YouTube subscribers who watch her create mind-blowing domino setups. She calls them “domino installations.”

Hevesh uses a process similar to that used by engineers when creating an engineering design. She starts by considering the purpose and theme of the project, and then she brainstorms ideas that might make an effective installation. She considers how to arrange the pieces in a way that reflects the theme, and then she creates a sketch of the layout.

Once the design is finalized, Hevesh begins laying the dominoes in rows. She typically takes a double-twelve or double-nine set at the start, and then she draws six additional dominoes from the unused ones.

As the first domino is laid, it is important to make sure it has matching ends with other tiles. If it doesn’t, the other ends will not be exposed, and new ones will have to be drawn from the unused ones. The pips on the exposed ends are then counted.

After the first domino is positioned, it can be matched with other tiles by its blank side. In some games, a domino with a blank side is considered “wild” and can be ascribed any value. Then, as the next domino is placed, some of its potential energy will be converted to kinetic energy (energy of motion), and that will cause it to push the first one over and set off the domino rally. This continues until the last domino falls.