The Domino Effect


Dominoes are small wooden or plastic blocks with a line down the middle and dots or numbers resembling those on dice. They can be stacked end-to-end in long lines to form very complex designs. When the first domino in a row is tipped over, it triggers the next one to tip and so on until all of the pieces topple. This is the origin of the term domino effect, a phrase used to describe events that follow in a cascade with increasingly dramatic—and sometimes devastating—consequences.

A domino is a versatile teaching tool that can help students understand the commutative property of addition. By matching the sides of a domino to the matching ends of adjacent tiles, students can see that it does not matter which way around they place a tile; the total number of dots remains the same. They can also play games with the dominoes to further reinforce their understanding of how the digits on each end of a tile correspond to the digits on the other side of that tile.

Hevesh creates some of the most intricate domino displays in the world. Her largest installations can take several nail-biting minutes to fall completely. But Hevesh knows that a crucial physical phenomenon—gravity—is what makes her creations possible. She says that the force of gravity is what pushes a fallen domino toward Earth and ultimately into the next piece in the chain reaction.

As Hevesh works, she builds test versions of each section of an installation to ensure that each part functions properly. She also films these tests in slow motion, which allows her to make precise corrections if something isn’t working right. She then puts all the sections together in a final setup that she deems ready to go. The biggest 3-D sections come first, followed by flat arrangements and finally the lines of dominoes that connect them all together.

In business, the domino principle is often applied to describe a series of actions that lead to a desired outcome. For example, if you want to attract new clients for your startup company, building an email list, writing articles for your blog, and updating social media daily can all work together to increase your reach and earn you new business over time. Each of these tasks is a different domino, but they are all necessary components to grow your business.

In risk analysis, the domino effect describes the impact of a single change in one factor on other related factors. For example, if one chemical process injures or kills a person, it could affect the production of other chemicals that are critical to that process, leading to an unsafe situation for workers and a potential environmental disaster. This is why evaluating all possible scenarios and effects is essential to the success of any risk management project. While the exact causes of a chemical accident are rarely known, modeling can reduce uncertainty and improve outcomes by providing a better sense of what might happen if something goes wrong.

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