eNewsChannels COLUMN: Recognition of R. Buckminster Fuller’s genius is not as widespread as it should be, which is understandable given his near-total lockout from mainstream discourse and a fundamental quake-in-their-boots reaction by today’s politicians.
Inventor, writer, and futurist R. Buckminster Fuller was called “Bucky” except when he was receiving his dozens of patents, his 47 honorary doctorate degrees, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Buckminster Fuller’s findings and predictions have touched the lives of millions and paved the way for research, ideas, speeches, and books from a wide variety of writers and thinkers, including Alvin Toffler (Future Shock, The Third Wave, and Revolutionary Wealth, among other works), Tom Peters (The Little BIG Things), and John Naisbitt (Megatrends and Reinventing the Corporation).
As a design-scientist (his term), Fuller had goals that were just a bunch of piddly little things like finding ways of providing food, energy, and shelter for all of humanity. Born in the 1890s, Fuller became one of the earliest proponents of renewable energy sources, documenting methods by which the earth could produce enough energy for the planet’s population while also phasing out reliance on fossil fuels and atomic energy.
His proposals are still being examined today, although you could be forgiven for not noticing this since the media is often very busy with more important things like car chases, murder investigations, right-wing wackos attempting to hijack Congress and the Supreme Court, and anything involving celebrities.
Any one of Fuller’s developments would be an impressive accomplishment for most of us. During his career, the man took imagination to reality in many realms. His breakthroughs include:
The Geodesic Dome. These structures are the lightest, strongest, and most cost-effective ever devised. The U.S. Marine Corps utilizes geodesic domes to shelter delicate radar gear in the icy 180mph storms of the Arctic. In addition to the military uses, there are more than a quarter of a million more geodesic domes around the globe, including those at Epcot Center and the home of Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose in Long Beach Harbor, where one of Bucky’s domes stands as the largest clear-span structure in the world.
Dymaxion House. Originally called the 4D House, this is an inexpensive, mass-produced home that can be airlifted to its location. When a department store first displayed a model of the 4D House, the marketing department coined the word “dymaxion” by combining “dynamic,” “maximum,” and “ion.” They trademarked the term in Fuller’s name and it was applied to many of Fuller’s subsequent inventions.
Dymaxion Map. Displaying the globe accurately on a flat map was impossible until Fuller developed this solution. In addition, Fuller’s map can be reconfigured to put different regions at the center, enabling users to better consider the world’s problems by prompting people to think comprehensively about the planet.
The World Game. In a bid to increase the quality of life for everyone, Fuller developed The World Game. As Fuller put it, the goal of the Game is to “make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone.” Yeah, he put words together in interesting turns of phrase, but the practicality of his ideas transcended the compound sentences.
Dymaxion Car. This was a streamlined automobile that could smoothly make extraordinarily sharp turns. By having its wheels turn 90 degrees, the Dymaxion Car could park in a space only a few inches longer than the total length of the automobile. It also used a periscope rear-view mirror, thus avoiding those silly protruding side mirrors that destroy the visual flow (not to mention the airflow) of every other vehicle on the road today.
I need you to take a bit of a leap here. Ready? All right, I need you to imagine yourself as a traveler in outer space. It doesn’t matter if your frame of reference is Star Wars or Plan 9 from Outer Space, Star Trek or Apollo 13, Space Cowboys or 2001. Whatever your mind needs to picture, just pretend you’re out in space, okay?
Okay, here we go. What a rush! Silently sailing through the heavens! Lighter than air, free from most gravitational forces, and in a gigantic arc of cosmic travel. What Joy! What Bliss! And yet . . .
Unfortunately, there are a few problems with your trip. Some of the challenges are annoying but seem fairly minor. For example, while there’s an intercom on board, not everyone is plugged into it. Of those who are connected and paying attention, only some people bother to work out their differing languages, customs, habits, and cultures. But there are serious difficulties as well . . .
For example, the air supply is being tampered with on a daily basis, often as a matter of economic policy rather than as a matter of health.
Meanwhile, groups of passengers have formed factions which are attempting to wield power over other factions. Some entire compartments have been taken over by force. Other areas have been made off-limits and booby-trapped to enforce the lines of demarcation.
Meanwhile, some groups are killing others in both random and organized fashion.
Meanwhile, the food supply has been allowed to fall below subsistence level in some areas, and the overall water supply is unequally distributed; in fact, it’s unequal to the point of dehydration, disease, and death.
Meanwhile, the five permanent members of the on-board United Nations Security Council (USA, Russian Federation, China, France, Great Britain) have become the five leading suppliers of weapons to all factions.
Enjoying the Ride?
So, here we all are, notes Buckminster Fuller. Here we all are, riding through the solar system on our little, befouled, semi-radioactive, war-torn Spaceship Earth. Welcome aboard, passengers. No parachutes available.
For more information, visit the Buckminster Fuller Institute online at: http://bfi.org/about-bucky/buckys-big-ideas
Article is Copr. © 2012 by John Scott G and originally published on eNewsChannels.com – all commercial and reprint rights reserved.