A domino is a small, flat, rectangular block of a rigid material that is used to play games of chance or skill. Its identifying mark is a line or ridge that divides it into two square parts, each bearing from one to six dots or pips. A domino may also be referred to as a bone, card, men, or pieces. A domino set is typically comprised of 28 such tiles, although many other variants exist.
Domino is the name of a family of games that use these blocks to create combinations and chains of action. Most of these games are based on the principle that a tile can only be laid down or moved if its opposite end is already in place. This arrangement allows the game to progress from one player to the next by transferring ownership of the tiles, whose value is determined by the number of pips they contain.
For example, a tile with a single row of three or four pips is the same as a double-blank; it counts as either zero or 14, depending on the rules of the particular game being played. In most cases, the player who has the most points after a given number of rounds wins.
Some domino sets are made of natural materials, such as marble, granite or soapstone; woods (e.g., ash or oak); metals; and ceramic clay. These sets have a more substantial feel and are typically more expensive than those produced from polymers.
Other games are based on more sophisticated strategies, such as blocking and scoring. These games often use dominoes as a substitute for dice or other gaming objects, and were once popular in places where religious restrictions on the use of gambling devices prohibited the playing of cards.
As a result, these domino-based games often require more strategic thinking than those involving simple luck or chance. They also tend to be more complex to set up and play than traditional card or dice games.
The most famous of these is probably the game of tic-tac-toe, which has become a part of popular culture through its appearance in movies and television shows. Its popularity has led to its inclusion in classrooms, and it is now possible to buy electronic versions of this classic game for home use.
A domino has another important quality that makes it a useful tool in learning physics. Physicist Stephen Morris says that when a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy, which depends on its position. When it falls, much of that energy is converted into kinetic energy, which causes the domino to topple over and trigger a chain reaction.
For this reason, a domino is a good model for the function of nerve cells, or neurons. To demonstrate how this works, try this experiment: Place a group of dominoes on a table and place the first domino on the middle of the ruler. Gently push the domino toward the edge of the ruler with your finger, using just enough force to make it move slightly and leave the rest of the dominoes upright. Repeat this procedure several times, and observe how the dominoes behave each time.