The World of R. Buckminster Fuller
March 7, 2011 4:31 AM   Subscribe

Buckminster Fuller was an architect, engineer, geometrician, philosopher, futurist, inventor of the famous geodesic dome, and one of the most brilliant thinkers of his time. Previously.
posted by twoleftfeet (20 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
He was also the inventor of the best ever world map.
The Dymaxion Map.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:48 AM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

I was mildly obsessed with Buckminster Fuller during my adolescence, even going far enough to own a copy of Synergetics, and a tensegritoy (although apparently Kenneth Snelson deserves at least as much credit for the concept of tensegrity as Fuller). It only dawned on me as I got older that, although he was undoubtedly a free thinker and visionary, he also had more than a little bit of crackpot in him too.
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 5:13 AM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Here is a piece on Buckminster Fuller from the New Yorker from a couple years ago.
posted by DarkForest at 6:16 AM on March 7, 2011

One of the best of the wackiest ideas to "fix" the troubled city of East St. Louis: let's build a mile-wide Bucky dome over the city! Here's a clip.

(Also, I could be wrong, but I don't think he invented the geodesic dome. I think he just popularized it.)
posted by Surinam Toad at 6:49 AM on March 7, 2011

I was wondering how this was an FPP. Then I clicked the link.

Oooooh! Goodness!
posted by humannaire at 6:54 AM on March 7, 2011


Geometrician? Geometrist? Geometricist? Geometer?
posted by The Tensor at 8:13 AM on March 7, 2011

I've always loved the Fuller projection, showing that we live together on an archipelago. [/groovy]
posted by Scoo at 8:32 AM on March 7, 2011

I want to build that "simplest tensegrity structure" with cello strings for cables - pushing down on any part of it should cause a whammy-bar style soaring and diving of pitches. Add some contact mics on the rods and plug it into a distortion pedal and a reverb and go to town!
posted by idiopath at 8:39 AM on March 7, 2011

R. Buckminster Fuller was so sane...he was insane, and history is still trying to understand him and take in his ideas.
Our students should be studying Spherical Geometry and not Euclidean Geometry.
His highest gift to mankind was that he dedicated his life to the benefit of all people on earth.
His life and work is worth an in-depth study for anyone, which will provide insights of our universe and life.
posted by analogtom at 8:52 AM on March 7, 2011

Love Bucky. I have a Dymaxion Globe I bought at the Fuller exhibit that was showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art for a time here in Chicago.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:03 AM on March 7, 2011

Every year there's a festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada that, based on the architecture, is basically a big tribute to Bucky.
posted by mullingitover at 9:05 AM on March 7, 2011

Sorry, Fuller did not invent the geodesic dome. That credit goes to Walther Bauersfeld. Fuller didn't invent the "octet truss" either; that was invented by Alexander Graham Bell.

Fuller also asserted that man evolved from aquatic creatures, and that gold was the most electrically conductive metal.

To his credit, Fuller was very good at self promotion. Despite my cynicism, I find Fuller's work to be esthetically valuable. Here is an octet truss in Seattle, which has since been dismantled.
posted by Tube at 9:23 AM on March 7, 2011

I spent a lot of time in the geodesic dome home Fuller built for himself and and his wife when he taught at Southern Illinois Univ in 1960. By the time I was a student at SIU 20 years later, it was just another semi-decrepit student house in a Carbondale neighborhood full of them, albeit funky as all getout. I have lots of fond memories of the various illegal and inadvisable activities my friends and I enjoyed in and around the dome home.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:25 AM on March 7, 2011

Don't forget the dymaxion car!

Bucky Fuller - my hero. I bought up a crapload of his limited edition stamps when they were available, but alas, they are lost to a few bad decisions, but the person who has them loves him equally, too.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:08 AM on March 7, 2011

"The dark ages still reign over all humanity, and the depth and persistence of this domination are only now becoming clear.
This Dark Ages prison has no steel bars, chains, or locks. Instead, it is locked by misorientation and built of misinformation. "
posted by ahimsakid at 10:53 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Wealth is our organized capability to cope effectively with the environment in sustaining our healthy regeneration and decreasing both the physical and metaphysical restrictions of the forward days of our lives."
posted by ahimsakid at 11:00 AM on March 7, 2011

Mr. Fuller may've had crackpot moments, but his ideas on a global energy grid are becoming more valid by the day....

"More than 20 years ago, the World Game model by Dr. R. Buckminster Fuller (inventor of Geodesic Domes, Synergetics, Dymaxion Map) proposed the planet's highest priority to be the interconnection of electric grids to tap abundant, but often remote renewable resources. In Earth in the Balance, Vice President Gore acknowledges Fuller's vision for our world."

Everything starts as a pipedream. Personally, I'd rather have seen the money pissed away on the Iraq/Afganistan fiasce better spent on Bucky's ideas
posted by Redhush at 11:48 AM on March 7, 2011

posted by mrgrimm at 12:14 PM on March 7, 2011

Like stupidsexyflanders, I too spent a great deal of time in and near his geodesic dome house in Carbondale. (there were a couple domes in town, actually). I also studied under one of his former colleagues and protegés. If Bucky was anything like his colleague (which, by all evidence I've since collected, seems to be the case), then Bucky was a utopian lunatic. Yes, he was an interesting mind and yes he had some interesting ideas and thought outside of the box, but some of his claptrap was just that… claptrap. For example, they had an idea to base our monetary system not on gold or what-have-you, but sea rocks… you know, at the bottom of the sea. And starting on day one of this "system" every man, woman, and child in the world would receive a base amount of "money" based on these sea rocks. Voila, poverty solved. What?!?! I spent way too many hours learning about these ridiculous schemes of Bucky et al. While I was a student at the university, his former department (Department of Community Development) was eventually dismantled completely. Only 20 years too late.
posted by readyfreddy at 2:09 AM on March 8, 2011

There is a piece in "Synergetics" that is the most accurate description of what goes on in my brain/body while I have what doctors call "seizure" and I would rather call "energy events" I was calling them that before I knew Bucky used that term. Was very surprised when I stumbled on the chapter in The Fuller Explanation that described "energy events" and not so surprised that it was done through the prism of his geometry.

For me Bucky was and remains an inspiring individual.
posted by goalyeehah at 9:01 AM on March 8, 2011

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