How Do Dominoes Fall?


Domino is a game of falling blocks or tiles marked with numbers from one to six. Each domino has an identity-bearing face and a blank or identically patterned face. The numbers on the faces are called “pips” and are similar to those on a die. The physics of the game revolves around the principle that one domino, if triggered by the right sequence, will trigger its neighbors to fall. The result is an escalating chain reaction of tiles that can last for several nail-biting minutes. The most complex domino arrangements require multiple people and may take hours to complete. The most spectacular examples are built for movies, television shows, and events such as the release of pop music by Katy Perry. Lily Hevesh, who calls herself a “domino artist,” has worked on projects involving more than 300,000 dominoes. Her YouTube channel features videos of her creating amazing domino installations and she has won many awards for her work.

Hevesh, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, started playing with dominoes as a child and quickly began building elaborate curved and straight lines with the pieces. She also enjoyed creating and playing domino puzzles with her family. She created a YouTube channel to share her projects and soon became a professional domino artist, earning millions of followers for her intricate designs. She has been featured on television and in the movies, and she’s even consulted by businesses to help them create domino effects for promotional campaigns.

Aside from the skill needed to build her mind-boggling creations, Hevesh has relied on physics and other principles of science to make the dominoes she uses fall in just the right way. “Gravity is the main thing that makes my projects possible,” she says. This force pulls a knocked-over domino toward Earth, sending it crashing into the next domino and triggering an escalating chain reaction. “

Physicist Stephen Morris agrees that gravity is the key to dominoes. He explains that when a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy—energy stored based on its position. When the domino is pushed over, much of this energy converts to kinetic energy, or energy of motion. The push is equivalent to the force of a brick being dropped on a sidewalk. This energy travels through the domino and into its neighboring dominoes, causing them to fall over in succession.”

The ability to turn one good domino action into a long series of positive actions can be a huge asset to any business. Hevesh calls these activities “domino actions.” For example, Admiral William H. McRaven told University of Texas at Austin graduates in 2014 that making your bed every morning is a small victory that can have dramatic ripples throughout the day. Other domino actions include starting your day off with a workout, or taking on a challenging task that contributes to an important goal. The key is to find the tasks that will have the biggest impact. When you do, your life will be full of domino actions that add up to a life of success.