Dominoes are a popular toy, and their durable designs stand up to a long time of play. They can be used in a variety of different ways, from playing games to building 3D structures with them.
When you’re young, dominoes can be a great way to learn about logic and strategy. You can line them up in a pattern and watch them fall to the ground, or you can stack them in long lines and see which one tips over first.
Some people use dominoes to make intricate patterns like these, and a professional domino artist can build incredibly detailed installations using hundreds of thousands of them. But the process of creating these complex art displays isn’t easy: It requires meticulous planning and precise execution.
To create her complex projects, Hevesh begins by testing each section of the domino installation. She films these tests in slow motion, so she can fix any problems that arise before the entire design is put together.
Once she has a good idea of what works, she begins laying out the dominoes. She works with large, 3-D sections first, and then smaller flat ones. She then starts adding the lines of dominoes that connect all the sections.
But the real trick is letting them tumble. It takes a lot of energy for these pieces to whirl around and fall down. But a small nudge can trigger them to do it, thanks to the laws of physics.
“Gravity is the key,” says Stephen Morris, a professor of physics at the University of Toronto. That force pulls a domino toward Earth, setting off a chain reaction that eventually sends it falling into the next domino in line.
This physical phenomenon is the basis for Hevesh’s elaborate domino installations, and it’s a big part of what makes them so compelling.
It’s the same principle that makes your favorite game of solitaire possible, or how the dominoes can be stacked in a pattern to form a stunning picture.
Hevesh is one of the few people in the world who specializes in building these intricate domino creations. Her work has been featured in a number of museums, including the Smithsonian Institution.
She’s also helped set a Guinness World Record for the most dominoes toppled in a circular arrangement. She can create installations with hundreds of thousands of dominoes, and she’s been able to make them fall at speeds up to 40 feet per second.
Physicists believe that the inertia of these dominoes, combined with gravity, is what allows them to tumble so effortlessly. The physics behind how they do it are pretty simple, but it still takes a lot of practice to master it.
If you’re interested in creating your own domino art, here are some of the things to consider:
A great place to start is with a ruler. Measure out the length of a domino, and then place it on the ruler. Then, push the ruler a little farther forward to see what happens.