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The Domino Wonder of the Day


When a domino is placed properly, it creates a chain that can build structures of impressive size and beauty. These chains are also the basis of numerous games that are fun and educational for children and adults alike. But what exactly makes a domino so special? In this Wonder of the Day, we’ll take a closer look at the history and science behind this iconic toy.

Dominoes have been around for centuries. The earliest ones were made of bone or wood, but modern sets are often manufactured from heavy plastics. Early dominoes had a similar function to playing cards, serving as a way for people to socialize. They were also popular in the 18th and 19th centuries as a teaching tool, helping kids learn math and social skills.

The basic principle of domino is simple: a tile with one side bearing an arrangement of numbers and the other blank or identically patterned is played onto the edge of another tile already on the table, causing it to become the start of a line that gradually increases in length. Each subsequent tile added to the chain must touch both of the matching ends. This allows the chain to develop in a snake-like shape on the surface of the table.

Like the firing of a neuron, each domino has a potential energy, and when that first domino is knocked over, it unleashes this energy into a cascade that continues in the same direction until all of the tiles are in place. In fact, a recent study by University of British Columbia physicist Lorne Whitehead demonstrated that a single domino can actually knock down things about one-and-a-half times its size.

But the true power of a domino is that it can be triggered by a very small amount of energy, even less than the force required to push over a Tic Tac! In fact, this was the inspiration for a 1983 video demonstration of what’s known as the “domino effect” that went viral. It featured University of Toronto physics professor Stephen Morris setting up 13 dominos, each of which was 5 millimeters tall and only 1 millimeter thick. When the first domino was toppled, it caused the rest of the chain to fall in a cascade over three feet long!

The lesson for writers here is clear: If you want your story to succeed, make sure your scenes are spaced correctly. Just like dominoes, scenes that don’t advance the story or are at the wrong time will simply fail to do their job and leave readers wondering what’s next. Whether you’re a pantser who writes off the cuff or prefer to use an outline program such as Scrivener, paying attention to the way your scenes are positioned will help keep your reader engaged.