How to Build a Domino Structure Using the Laws of Physics

Domino is a small rectangular block of wood or plastic used for games. Each domino is marked with a pattern of spots or dots that resemble the numbers on dice. A domino set includes 28 or more of these pieces, sometimes called bones, cards, men, or tiles. When one is tipped, it starts a chain reaction that causes the other dominoes to fall.

In some games, dominoes are lined up in long rows. Players then try to knock them over in a sequence. Others place them in 3-D shapes. The resulting structures can take hours to build. They often require the use of adhesives to keep them in place.

Whether you’re using the classic white and black dominoes or an intricate, 3-D arrangement, a good foundation is essential for a successful project. This is especially true for large displays that require several nail-biting minutes to fall. A skilled craftsman can achieve a spectacular domino installation by using the natural laws of physics.

Domino artist Shel Hevesh creates stunning structures by leveraging the laws of physics. Her largest installations can take several nail-biting minutes to fall, but she knows that her careful design will work if it follows the principles of gravity. She uses test versions of each section to make sure it works correctly. Hevesh also films the tests in slow motion to ensure she has footage of each step.

She also keeps track of the total number of dominoes in her “boneyard,” or reserve, which is where she puts the pieces she hasn’t played. If she can’t find a domino to play, she must “chip out” or knock the table and pass play to her opponent. She must then search her boneyard for a domino that matches the previous player’s total spot count. When a match is found, that domino must be played before the next player can chip out.

When the last domino is played, the winner is the person whose total spot count is highest. In some games, players must play out all their remaining dominoes before the game ends. In other games, players may chip out before the game ends if they can’t play another domino.

Like dominoes, stories need scenes that advance the plot. A story that fails to do this will feel slow and choppy, and it won’t hold the attention of readers. If you’re a pantser, or a writer who doesn’t make detailed outlines of the plot ahead of time, you may find that some scenes are too long (heavy on details or minutiae) or too short (making the scene seem shallow at key moments of discovery or plot points). A good way to weed out unnecessary or repetitive scenes is to use a tool such as Scene cards or Scrivener to help you organize your ideas. Using these tools will also help you weed out scenes that don’t have enough of a logical impact on the scene that comes before it.