R. Buckminster Fuller Online Resources
- Dare to be naïve.
- Motto of R. Buckminster Fuller; used in many of his speeches and writings, including Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975)
- Don’t fight forces, use them.
- Shelter (1932), sometimes quoted or paraphrased as “Don’t oppose forces, use them.”
Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.
- There is room enough indoors in New York City for the whole 1963 world’s population to enter, with room enough inside for all hands to dance the twist in average nightclub proximity.
- Prime Design (May 1960), later published in The Buckminster Fuller Reader (1970) edited by James Meller
- The politician is someone who deals in man’s problems of adjustment. To ask a politician to lead us is to ask the tail of a dog to lead the dog.
- Relativity is inherently convergent, though convergent toward a plurality of centers of abstract truths. Degrees of accuracy are only degrees of refinement and magnitude in no way affects the fundamental reliability, which refers, as directional or angular sense, toward centralized truths. Truth is a relationship.
- “The Designers and the Politicians” (1962), later published in Ideas and Integrities : A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure (1969), p. 233, and The The Buckminster Fuller Reader (1970), p. 305
- So long as mathematicians can impose up-and-down semantics upon students while trafficking personally in the non-up-and-down advantages of their concise statements, they can impose upon the ignorance of man a monopoly of access to accurate processing of information and can fool even themselves by thought habits governing the becoming behavior of professional specialists, by disclaiming the necessity of, or responsibility for, comprehensive adjustment of the a priori thought to total reality of universal principles. The everywhere-relative velocities and momentums of interactions, of energetic phenomena of universe, are central to the preoccupations and realizations of the comprehensive designer. The concept of relativity involves high frequency of re-established awareness, and progressively integrating consideration of the respective, and also integrated dynamic complexities of the moving and transforming frame of reference and of the integrated dynamic complexities of the observed, as well as of the series of integrated sub-dynamic complexities, in respect to each of the major categories of the relatively moving frames of reference, of the observer and the observed. It also involves constant reference of all the reciprocating sub-sets to the comprehensive totality of non-simultaneous universe, from which naught may be lost.
- “The Designers and the Politicians” (1962), later published in Ideas and Integrities : A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure (1969),p. 234, and The The Buckminster Fuller Reader (1970), p. 305
- God, to me, it seems
is a verb,
not a noun,
proper or improper.
- No More Secondhand God (1963)
- on first priority
in design consideration
is the full realization
of individual potential
in order to reach the second derivative — full realization for all individuals
- No More Secondhand God (1963)
- The opposite of nature is impossible
- Public lecture at Columbia University (Spring 1965) 
- One of my working assumptions which has been proven successful so often as seemingly to qualify it as a reliable tenet is that A problem adequately stated is a problem solved theoretically and immediately, and therefore subsequently to be solved, realistically. Others have probably stated the principle in many ways. The assumption is that the inevitability of a solution’s realization is inherent in the interaction of human intellect and the constantly transformative evolution of physical universe. At first the, only subconsciously apprehended, approaching confluences of complex events make themselves known intuitively within the intellectual weather. Then comes a gradually awakening consciousness of the presence of new families of differentiating-out challenging concepts of every day prominence. It is with these randomly patterning families of separate concepts that evolution is about to deal integratively. As a now specific unitary problem it may be disposed of effectively when and if that unified problem becomes “adequately stated” and thereby comprehensibly solvable.
- Thinking is a momentary dismissal of irrelevancies.
- Utopia or Oblivion: The Prospects of Humanity (1969)
- The Things to do are: the things that need doing, that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done. Then you will conceive your own way of doing that which needs to be done — that no one else has told you to do or how to do it. This will bring out the real you that often gets buried inside a character that has acquired a superficial array of behaviors induced or imposed by others on the individual.
- Letter to “Micheal” (16 February 1970) Micheal was a 10 year old boy who had inquired in a letter as to whether Fuller was a “doer” or a “thinker”.
- We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.
- I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe.
- I Seem to Be a Verb (1970)
- Pollution is nothing but resources we’re not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value. But if we got onto a planning planning basis, the government could trap pollutants in the stacks and spillages and get back more money than this would cost out of the stockpiled chemistries they’d be collecting.
Margaret Mead gets cross with me when I talk like this because she says people are doing some very important things because they’re worried and excited and I’m going to make them relax and stop doing those things. But we’re dealing with something much bigger than we’re accustomed to understanding, we’re on a very large course indeed. You speak of racism, for example, and I tell you that there’s no such thing as race. The point is that racism is the product of tribalism and ignorance and both are falling victim to communications and world-around literacy.
- I seek through comprehensive anticipatory design science and its reductions to physical practices to reform the environment instead of trying to reform humans, being intent thereby to accomplish prototyped capabilities of doing more with less… (1947)
- Earth, Inc. (1973) ISBN 0-385-01825-8 This is just part of a very long sentence that covers the whole first page, but in this part of the quote, the intention of the entire book is stated.
- It seems to demonstrate that periods of industrial activity in technical syntheses of principles, data, free energy and energy as “matter,” find highest employment by the fear-amassed credits of warfare. Therefore the assumption approaches fact that war promotes the major technical advances of civilization… What has not been clear is that the potential of this emergency-born technology has always accrued to human’s prewar individual initiatives taken in a humble but irrepressible progression of assumptions, measurements, deductions, and codifications of pure science. (1947)
- Earth, Inc. (1973) In this passage, Fuller begins to explain why technological progress seems to make great gains in war time and states his view that this is a reflection of advances mainly made in peacetime — wars simply force nations to take notice of their advances in the pure science and then they apply those advances to the war effort. Later in the book Fuller will explain why he thinks war is not necessary to bring advances in the pure sciences into actual production. He uses this to advance the notion that humans can very comfortably live at a high standard of living by “doing more with less.”
- Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.
- Interview (30 April 1978)
- Up to the Twentieth Century, reality was everything humans could touch, smell, see, and hear. Since the initial publication of the chart of the electromagnetic spectrum, humans have learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear is less than one-millionth of reality. Ninety-nine percent of all that is going to affect our tomorrows is being developed by humans using instruments and working in ranges of reality that are nonhumanly sensible.
- R. Buckminster Fuller on Education (University of Massachusetts Press, 1979), p. 130
- The most important thing to teach your children is that the sun does not rise and set. It is the Earth that revolves around the sun. Then teach them the concepts of North, South, East and West, and that they relate to where they happen to be on the planet’s surface at that time. Everything else will follow.
- Final interview before his death, “NewsCenter4”, WNBC-TV (1983)
CALL ME TRIMTAB
- CALL ME TRIMTAB
- Inscription on his headstone. On a ship the trimtab is a small but crucial part of a the rudder mechanism, which controls the direction of the vessel; on an aircraft it is a small adjustable tab on the trailing edge of the elevator control surface set by the pilot to trim the aircraft in a steady and level orientation. This use for his epitaph comes from statements he had made in life, including an interview with Barry Farrell in Playboy(February 1972):
Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trimtab.
It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trimtab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go.
So I said, call me Trimtab.
He is also quoted at the Buckminster Fuller Institute as having said:
When I thought about steering the course of the “Spaceship Earth” and all of humanity, I saw most people trying to turn the boat by pushing the bow around.
I saw that by being all the way at the tail of the ship, by just kicking my foot to one side or the other, I could create the “low pressure” which would turn the whole ship. If ever someone wanted to write my epitaph, I would want it to say “Call me Trimtab”.
- Politicians are always realistically maneuvering for the next election. They are obsolete as fundamental problem-solvers.
- As quoted in Synergetics Dictionary : The Mind of Buckminster Fuller (1986) by E. J. Applewhite
- The Universe consists of non-simultaneously apprehended events.
- As quoted by Robert Anton Wilson in Maybe Logic – The Lives and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson (2003)
4D Timelock (1928)
- All sports are time control demonstrations…
- Life is the spirit incarnate in time.
- There will come a time when the proper education of children, by a glorified system of spontaneous education of choice, similar to the Montessori System, will be made possible. Children, as well as grown-ups, in their individual, glorified, drudgery-proof homes of Labrador, the tropics, the Orient, or where you will, to which they can pass with pleasure and expedition by means of ever-improving transportation, will be able to tune in their television and radio to the moving picture lecture of, let us say, President Lowell of Harvard; the professor of Mathematics of Oxford; of the doctor of Indian antiquities of Delhi, etc. Education by choice, with its marvelous motivating psychology of desire for truth, will make life ever cleaner and happier, more rhythmical and artistic.
Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1963)
Man is going to be displaced altogether as a specialist by the computer. Man himself is being forced to reestablish, employ, and enjoy his innate “comprehensivity.” Coping with the totality of Spaceship Earth and universe is ahead for all of us.
You may very appropriately want to ask me how we are going to resolve the ever-acceleratingly dangerous impasse of world-opposed politicians and ideological dogmas. I answer, it will be resolved by the computer.
Take the initiative. Go to work, and above all co-operate and don’t hold back on one another or try to gain at the expense of another. Any success in such lopsidedness will be increasingly short-lived. These are the synergetic rules that evolution is employing and trying to make clear to us. They are not man-made laws. They are the infinitely accommodative laws of the intellectual integrity governing universe.
- Our brains deal exclusively with special-case experiences. Only our minds are able to discover the generalized principles operating without exception in each and every special-experience case which if detected and mastered will give knowledgeable advantage in all instances.
- Of course, our failures are a consequence of many factors, but possibly one of the most important is the fact that society operates on the theory that specialization is the key to success, not realizing that specialization precludes comprehensive thinking.
- One of humanity’s prime drives is to understand and be understood. All other living creatures are designed for highly specialized tasks. Man seems unique as the comprehensive comprehender and co-ordinator of local universe affairs.
- As a consequence of the slavish “categoryitis” the scientifically illogical, and as we shall see, often meaningless questions “Where do you live?” “What are you?” “What religion?” “What race?” “What nationality?” are all thought of today as logical questions. By the twenty-first century it either will have become evident to humanity that these questions are absurd and anti-evolutionary or men will no longer be living on Earth.
- There’s a major pattern of energy in universe wherein the very large events, earthquakes, and so forth, occur in any one area of universe very much less frequently than do the small energy events. Around the Earth insects occur more often than do earthquakes. In the patterning of total evolutionary events, there comes a time, once in a while, amongst the myriad of low energy events, when a large energy event transpires and is so disturbing that with their general adaptability lost, the ultra-specialized creatures perish.
- Man is going to be displaced altogether as a specialist by the computer. Man himself is being forced to reestablish, employ, and enjoy his innate “comprehensivity.” Coping with the totality of Spaceship Earth and universe is ahead for all of us.
- Evolution consists of many great revolutionary events taking place quite independently of man’s consciously attempting to bring them about. Man is very vain; he likes to feel that he is responsible for all the favorable things that happen, and he is innocent of all the unfavorable happenings. But all the larger evolutionary patternings seeming favorable or unfavorable to man’s conditioned reflexing are transpiring transcendentally to any of man’s conscious planning or contriving.
- Our little Spaceship Earth is only eight thousand miles in diameter, which is almost a negligible dimension in the great vastness of space. . . . Spaceship Earth was so extraordinarily well invented and designed that to our knowledge humans have been on board it for two million years not even knowing that they were on board a ship.
- Now there is one outstandingly important fact regarding Spaceship Earth, and that is that no instruction book came with it.
- Synergy is the only word in our language that means behaviour of whole systems unpredicted by the separately observed behaviours of any of the system’s separate parts or any subassembly of the system’s parts. There is nothing in the chemistry of a toenail that predicts the existence of a human being.
- Universe is synergetic. Life is synergetic.
- Topology provides the synergetic means of ascertaining the values of any system of experiences. Topology is the science of fundamental pattern and structural relationships of event constellations.
- The procedure we are pursuing is that of true democracy. Semi-democracy accepts the dictatorship of a majority in establishing its arbitrary, ergo, unnatural, laws. True democracy discovers by patient experiment and unanimous acknowledgement what the laws of nature or universe may be for the physical support and metaphysical satisfaction of the human intellect’s function in universe.
- Einstein, Planck, and other leading scientists said, “We’re going to have to reassess and redefine the physical universe.” — They defined the physical universe as “an aggregate of non-simultaneous and only partially overlapping transformation events.”
- Every time man makes a new experiment he always learns more. He cannot learn less. He may learn that what he thought was true was not true. By the elimination of a false premise, his basic capital wealth which in his given lifetime is disembarrassed of further preoccupation with considerations of how to employ a worthless time-consuming hypothesis. Freeing his time for its more effective exploratory investment is to give man increased wealth.
- Sum-totally, we find that the physical constituent of wealth-energy-cannot decrease and that the metaphysical constituent-know-how-can only increase. This is to say that every time we use our wealth it increases.
- The difference between mind and brain is that brain deals only with memorized, subjective, special-case experiences and objective experiments, while mind extracts and employs the generalized principles and integrates and interrelates their effective employment. Brain deals exclusively with the physical, and mind exclusively with the metaphysical.
- Synergy is the only word in our language which identifies the meaning for which it stands. Since the word is unknown to the average public, as I have already pointed out, it is not at all surprising that synergy has not been included in the economic accounting of our wealth transactions or in assessing our common wealth capabilities.
- You may very appropriately want to ask me how we are going to resolve the ever-acceleratingly dangerous impasse of world-opposed politicians and ideological dogmas. I answer, it will be resolved by the computer.
- While no politician or political system can ever afford to yield understandably and enthusiastically to their adversaries and opposers, all politicians can and will yield enthusiastically to the computers safe flight-controlling capabilities in bringing all of humanity in for a happy landing.
- Take the initiative. Go to work, and above all co-operate and don’t hold back on one another or try to gain at the expense of another. Any success in such lopsidedness will be increasingly short-lived. These are the synergetic rules that evolution is employing and trying to make clear to us. They are not man-made laws. They are the infinitely accommodative laws of the intellectual integrity governing universe.
- 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.
Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking (1975) 
Moral of the work 
It is one of our most exciting discoveries that local discovery leads to a complex of further discoveries.
Lack of knowledge concerning all the factors and the failure to include them in our integral imposes false conclusions.
As many have long suspected — like it or not — ‘life is but a dream.”
- Dare to be naïve.
- It is one of our most exciting discoveries that local discovery leads to a complex of further discoveries. Corollary to this we find that we no sooner get a problem solved than we are overwhelmed with a multiplicity of additional problems in a most beautiful payoff of heretofore unknown, previously unrecognized, and as-yet unsolved problems.
- Each age is characterized by its own astronomical myriads of new, special-case experiences and problems to be stored in freshly born optimum capacity human brains — which storages in turn may disclose to human minds the presence of heretofore undiscovered, unsuspectedly existent eternal generalized principles.
- We are in an age that assumes the narrowing trends of specialization to be logical, natural, and desirable. Consequently, society expects all earnestly responsible communication to be crisply brief. . . . In the meantime, humanity has been deprived of comprehensive understanding. Specialization has bred feelings of isolation, futility, and confusion in individuals. It has also resulted in the individual’s leaving responsibility for thinking and social action to others. Specialization breeds biases that ultimately aggregate as international and ideological discord, which, in turn, leads to war.
- Lack of knowledge concerning all the factors and the failure to include them in our integral imposes false conclusions.
- There is an inherently minimum set of essential concepts and current information, cognizance of which could lead to our operating our planet Earth to the lasting satisfaction and health of all humanity.
- We must start with scientific fundamentals, and that means with the data of experiments and not with assumed axioms predicated only upon the misleading nature of that which only superficially seems to be obvious. It is the consensus of great scientists that science is the attempt to set in order the facts of experience.
- The word generalization in literature usually means covering too much territory too thinly to be persuasive, let alone convincing. In science, however, a generalization means a principle that has been found to hold true in every special case. … The principle of leverage is a scientific generalization.
Introduction: The Wellspring of Reality
- Quite clearly, our task is predominantly metaphysical, for it is how to get all of humanity to educate itself swiftly enough to generate spontaneous social behaviors that will avoid extinction.
- The physical is inherently entropic, giving off energy in ever more disorderly ways. The metaphysical is antientropic, methodically marshalling energy. Life is antientropic. It is spontaneously inquisitive. It sorts out and endeavors to understand.
- We are now synergetically forced to conclude that all phenomena are metaphysical; wherefore, as many have long suspected — like it or not — “life is but a dream.”
- The wellspring of reality is the family of weightless generalized principles.
- It is essential to release humanity from the false fixations of yesterday, which seem now to bind it to a rationale of action leading only to extinction.
- The youth of humanity all around our planet are intuitively revolting from all sovereignties and political ideologies. The youth of Earth are moving intuitively toward an utterly classless, raceless, omnicooperative, omniworld humanity. Children freed of the ignorantly founded educational traditions and exposed only to their spontaneously summoned, computer-stored and -distributed outflow of reliable-opinion-purged, experimentally verified data, shall indeed lead society to its happy egress from all misinformedly conceived, fearfully and legally imposed, and physically enforced customs of yesterday. They can lead all humanity into omnisuccessful survival as well as entrance into an utterly new era of human experience in an as-yet and ever-will-be fundamentally mysterious Universe.
Unity is plural and, at minimum, is two.
The explicable requires the inexplicable. Experience requires the nonexperienceable. The obvious requires the mystical.
A pattern has an integrity independent of the medium by virtue of which you have received the information that it exists.
- Synergy means behaviour of whole systems unpredicted by the behaviour of their parts taken seperately.
- Unity is plural and, at minimum, is two.
- The explicable requires the inexplicable. Experience requires the nonexperienceable. The obvious requires the mystical. This is a powerful group of paired concepts generated by the complementarity of conceptuality.
- A pattern has an integrity independent of the medium by virtue of which you have received the information that it exists. Each of the chemical elements is a pattern integrity. Each individual is a pattern integrity. The pattern integrity of the human individual is evolutionary and not static.
- The eternal is omniembracing and permeative; and the temporal is linear. This opens up a very high order of generalizations of generalizations. The truth could not be more omni-important, although it is often manifestly operative only as a linear identification of a special-case experience on a specialized subject.
- [A]ll the categories of creatures act individually as special-case and may be linearly analyzed; retrospectively, it is discoverable that inadvertently they are all interaffecting one another synergetically as a spherical, interprecessionally regenerative, tensegrity spherical integrity. Geodesic spheres demonstrate the compressionally discontinuous–tensionally continuous integrity. Ecology is tensegrity geodesic spherical programming.
- Truth is cosmically total: synergetic. Verities are generalized principles stated in semimetaphorical terms. Verities are differentiable. But love is omniembracing, omnicoherent, and omni-inclusive, with no exceptions. Love, like synergetics, is nondifferentiable, i.e., is integral.
- The highest of generalizations is the synergetic integration of truth and love.
All the great metaphysical integrity of all the individuals, which is potential and inherent in the complex interactions of generalized principles, will always and only coexist eternally.
- We evolute toward ever lesser brain comprehension lags — ergo, toward ever diminishing error; ergo, ever diminishing misunderstandings; ergo, ever diminishing fear, and its brain-lagging painful errors of objectivity; wherefore we approach eternal instantaneity of absolute and total comprehension. The eternal instantaneity of no lag at all. However, we have now learned from our generalizations of the great complexity of the interactions of principles as we are disembarrassed of our local, exclusively physical chemistry of information-sensing devices — that what is approached is eternal and instant awareness of absolute reality of all that ever existed. All the great metaphysical integrity of all the individuals, which is potential and inherent in the complex interactions of generalized principles, will always and only coexist eternally.
Critical Path (1981)
A summing up of Fuller’s views and outlooks on the prospects for human survival and progress; one of his more accessible works, and the only major work currently in print. ISBN 0312174918
The nearest each of us can come to God is by loving the truth.
- “Those whom God hath joined together let no one put asunder.” To Anne Hewlett Fuller on this, our 63rd Wedding Anniversary and my 85 Birthday—July 12, 1980
- Are you spontaneously enthusiastic about everyone having everything you can have?
- There is no joy equal to that of being able to work for all humanity and doing what you’re doing well.
- What humans have spontaneously identified as good and bad — or as positive and negative — are evolutionary complementations in need of more accurate identifications.
- This book is written with the conviction that there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ people, no matter how offensive or eccentric to society they may seem. . . You and I didn’t design people. God designed people. What I am trying to do is to discover why God included humans in Universe.
- All of humanity is in peril of extinction if each one of us does not dare, now and henceforth, always to tell only the truth, and all the truth, and to do so promptly — right now.
- I am convinced that human continuance depends entirely upon: the intuitive wisdom of each and every individual . . . the individual’s integrity of speaking and acting only on the individual’s own within-self-intuited and reasoned initiative . . . the individual’s never joining action with others as motivated only by crowd-engendered-emotionalism, or a sense of the crowd’s power to overwhelm, or in fear of holding to the course indicated by one’s own intellectual convictions.
- Whether it is to be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moment. . . . Humanity is in ‘final exam’ as to whether or not it qualifies for continuance in Universe
- The nearest each of us can come to God is by loving the truth.
- It is the integrity of each individual human that is in final examination. On personal integrity hangs humanity’s fate. You can deceive others, you can deceive your brain-self, but you can’t deceive your mind-self — for mind deals only in the discovery of truth and the interrelationship of all truths. The cosmic laws with which mind deals are noncorruptible. Cosmic evolution is omniscient God comprehensively articulate.
- Humans have always unknowingly affected all Universe by every act and thought they articulate or even consider. . . . Realistic, comprehensively responsible, omni-system-considerate, unselfish thinking on the part of humans does absolutely affect human destiny.
- There are no solids. There are no things. There are only interfering and noninterfering patterns operative in pure principle, and principles are eternal. Principles never contradict principles. . . . The synergetic integral of the totality of principles is God, whose sum-total behaviour in pure principle is beyond our comprehension and is utterly mysterious to us, because as humans — in pure principle — we do not and never will know all the principles.
- Love is metaphysical gravity.
- The effective decisions can only be made by the independently thinking and adequately informed human individuals and their telepathically intercommunicated wisdom–the wisdom of the majority of all such human individuals–qualifying for continuance in Universe as local cosmic problem-solvers–in love with the truth and in individually spontaneous self-commitment to absolute faith in the wisdom, integrity, and love of God, who seems to wish Earthian humans to survive.
- It seemed that the time would come evolutionarily when humans might have acquired enough knowledge of generalized principles to permit a graduation from class-two (entropically selfish) evolution into class-one (syntropically cooperative) evolution, thereafter making all the right moves for all the right reasons.
- Pg. 246
Grunch of Giants (1983) 
Humanity is now experiencing history’s most difficult evolutionary transformation.
- I was convinced in 1927 that humanity’s most fundamental survival problems could never be solved by politics.
- I set about fifty-five years ago (1927) to see what a penniless, unknown human individual with a dependent wife and newborn child might be able to do effectively on behalf of all humanity…
- I do not look upon human beings as good or bad. I don’t think of my feet as a right foot and a wrong foot. … I am a student of the effectiveness of the technological evolution in its all unexpected alterations of the preoccupations of humanity and in its all unexpected alterings of human behaviours and prospects.
- I do know that technologically humanity now has the opportunity, for the first time in its history, to operate our planet in such a manner as to support and accommodate all humanity at a substantially more advanced standard of living than any humans have ever experienced.
Critical threshold-crossing of the inevitable revolution is already underway.
- Humanity is now experiencing history’s most difficult evolutionary transformation.
- The new human networks’ emergence represents the natural evolutionary expansion into the just completed, thirty-years-in-its-buildings world-embracing, physical communications network. The new reorienting of human networking constitutes the heart-and-mind-pumped flow of life and intellect into the world arteries.
- When blimp photographs are taken of giant stadia packed full of rock-concert or football fans, we get an idea of what 100,000 people look like. We all think of Hiroshima as the worst single killing of humans by humans. That was about a 75,000-capacity-coliseum-full. Each day of each year, year after year, a 75,000-capacity-stadiumfull of around-the-world humans perish from starvation or its side effects, despite an annual average 5-percent world food-production overage of the amount of food adequate for the total world’s population. This daily kill of innocents dwarfs the awful Auschwitz killing.
- Corporations are neither physical nor metaphysical phenomena. They are socioeconomic ploys — legally enacted game-playing — agreed upon only between overwhelmingly powerful socioeconomic individuals and by them imposed upon human society and its all unwitting members.
- I have been a deliberate half-century-fused inciter of a cool-headed, natural, gestation-rate-paced revolution, armed with physically demonstrable livingry levers with which altogether to elevate all humanity to realization of an inherently sustainable, satisfactory-to-all, ever higher standard of living. Critical threshold-crossing of the inevitable revolution is already underway.
Only Integrity is Going to Count (1983)
Each one of us has something to contribute. This really depends on each one doing their own thinking, but not following any kind of rule that I can give out, any command. We’re all on the frontier, we’re all in a great mystery — incredibly mysterious…
I have to say, I think that we are in some kind of final examination as to whether human beings now, with this capability to acquire information and to communicate, whether we’re really qualified to take on the responsibility we’re designed to be entrusted with.
- We are here as local information harvesters, local problem-solvers in support of the integrity of eternally regenerative Universe. The fact that we get away from physical problems doesn’t mean we go away from problems. The problems are really rarely physical.
- I find people only listen to you when they ask you to talk to them.
- The question of integrity will get finer and finer and more delicate and more beautiful.
- I find the audiences very excited. But then they come and say to me, “Your optimism has brushed off on me. I didn’t know we had an option. I feel so much better.” They say, “Your optimism.” And I am not optimistic or pessimistic. I feel that optimism and pessimism are very unbalanced. I am a very hard engineer. I am a mechanic. I am a sailor. I am an air pilot. I don’t tell people I can get you across the ocean with my ship unless I know what I’m talking about.
- I think it’s absolutely touch-and-go whether we’re going to make it. But the point is, for me to tell you that you have an option is not to be optimistic… Time and again, of course I am running into millions who don’t know we have the option, because it’s invisible, and I feel I have tremendous responsibility. So when people ask me to come and talk to them, I do my best to let them know they do have the option. Of course they’re pessimistic, not knowing that.
- The courage to cooperate or initiate are based entirely on the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth as the divine mind within you tells you the truth is. It really does require a courage and a self-disciplining to go along with that truth.
- I never try to tell anybody else what to do, number one. And number two, I think that’s what the individual is all about. Each one of us has something to contribute. This really depends on each one doing their own thinking, but not following any kind of rule that I can give out, any command. We’re all on the frontier, we’re all in a great mystery — incredibly mysterious. Each one possesses exactly what each one is working out, and what each one works out relates to their particular set of circumstances of any one day, or any one place around the world.
- I have to say, I think that we are in some kind of final examination as to whether human beings now, with this capability to acquire information and to communicate, whether we’re really qualified to take on the responsibility we’re designed to be entrusted with. And this is not a matter of an examination of the types of governments, nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with economic systems. It has to do with the individual. Does the individual have the courage to really go along with the truth?
- Integrity of the individual is what we’re being judged for and if we are not passing that examination, we don’t really have the guts, we’ll blow ourselves up. It will be all over. I think it’s all the difference in the world.
- When I was born, humanity was 95 per cent illiterate. Since I’ve been born, the population has doubled and that total population is now 65 per cent literate. That’s a gain of 130-fold of the literacy. When humanity is primarily illiterate, it needs leaders to understand and get the information and deal with it. When we are at the point where the majority of humans them-selves are literate, able to get the information, we’re in an entirely new relationship to Universe. We are at the point where the integrity of the individual counts and not what the political leadership or the religious leadership says to do.
The dark ages still reign over all humanity, and the depth and persistence of this domination are only now becoming clear.
Every child has an enormous drive to demonstrate competence.
Cosmography : A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity
- 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. Caught up in a plethora of conditioned reflexes and driven by the human ego, both warden and prisoner attempt meagerly to compete with God. All are intractably skeptical of what they do not understand.
We are powerfully imprisoned in these Dark Ages simply by the terms in which we have been conditioned to think.
- Doing the right things for the wrong reasons is typical of humanity. Precession — not conscious planning — provides a productive outcome for misguided political and military campaigns. Nature’s long-term design intervenes to circumvent the shortsightedness of human individuals, corporations, and nations competing for a share of the economic pie. Fundamentally, political economists misassume an inadequacy of life support to exist on our planet. Humanity therefore competes militarily to see which political system… is fittest to survive. In slavish observance of this misassumption, humans devote their most costly efforts and resources to “killingry” — a vast arsenal of weapons skillfully designed to kill ever more people at ever-greater distances in ever-shorter periods of time while employing ever-fewer pounds of material, ergs of energy, and seconds of time per killing.
- We must progress to the stage of doing all the right things for all the right reasons instead of doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons.
- In spite of all humans’ innate interest in the interrelatedness of all experience, long ago these world-power-structure builders learned to shunt all the bright intellectuals and the physically creative into specialist careers. The powerful reserved for themselves the far easier, because innate, comprehensive functioning. All one needs to do is to discover how self-perpetuating is this disease of specialization is to witness the inter-departmental battling for educational funds and the concomitant jealous guarding of the various specializations assigned to a department’s salaried experts on each subject in any university.
- Every child has an enormous drive to demonstrate competence. If humans are not required to earn a living to be provided survival needs, many are going to want very much to be productive, but not at those tasks they did not choose to do but were forced to accept in order to earn money. Instead, humans will spontaneously take upon themselves those tasks that world society really needs to have done.
- Dear reader, traditional human power structures and their reign of darkness are about to be rendered obsolete.
What usually happens in the educational process is that the faculties are dulled, overloaded, stuffed and paralyzed so that by the time most people are mature they have lost their innate capabilities.
Great nations are simply the operating fronts of behind-the-scenes, vastly ambitious individuals who had become so effectively powerful because of their ability to remain invisible while operating behind the national scenery.
Fuller published more than 30 books, coining or popularizing terms such as “Spaceship Earth“, ephemeralization, and synergetic. He also developed numerous inventions, mainly architectural designs, and popularized the widely known geodesic dome. Carbon molecules known as fullerenes were later named by scientists for their resemblance to geodesic spheres.
- 4 Quirks
- 5 Language and neologisms
- 6 Concepts and buildings
- 7 Influence and legacy
- 8 Patents
- 9 Bibliography
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
Fuller was born on July 12, 1895, in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of Richard Buckminster Fuller and Caroline Wolcott Andrews, and also the grandnephew of the American Transcendentalist Margaret Fuller. He attended Froebelian Kindergarten.Spending much of his youth on Bear Island, in Penobscot Bay off the coast of Maine, he had trouble with geometry, being unable to understand the abstraction necessary to imagine that a chalk dot on the blackboard represented a mathematical point, or that an imperfectly drawn line with an arrow on the end was meant to stretch off to infinity. He often made items from materials he brought home from the woods, and sometimes made his own tools. He experimented with designing a new apparatus for human propulsion of small boats. By the age of 12 he had “invented” a ‘push pull’ system for propelling a row boat through the use of an inverted umbrella connected to the transom with a simple oar lock which allowed the user to face forward to point the boat toward its destination. Later in life Fuller took exception to the term “invention”.
Years later, he decided that this sort of experience had provided him with not only an interest in design, but also a habit of being familiar with and knowledgeable about the materials that his later projects would require. Fuller earned a machinist’s certification, and knew how to use the press brake, stretch press, and other tools and equipment used in the sheet metal trade.
Fuller attended Milton Academy in Massachusetts, and after that began studying at Harvard University, where he was affiliated with Adams House. He was expelled from Harvard twice: first for spending all his money partying with a vaudeville troupe, and then, after having been readmitted, for his “irresponsibility and lack of interest.” By his own appraisal, he was a non-conforming misfit in the fraternity environment.
Between his sessions at Harvard, Fuller worked in Canada as a mechanic in a textile mill, and later as a laborer in the meat-packing industry. He also served in the U.S. Navy in World War I, as a shipboard radio operator, as an editor of a publication, and as a crash rescue boat commander. After discharge, he worked again in the meat packing industry, acquiring management experience. In 1917, he married Anne Hewlett. During the early 1920s, he and his father-in-law developed the Stockade Building System for producing light-weight, weatherproof, and fireproof housing—although the company would ultimately fail in 1927.
Depression and epiphany
Buckminster Fuller recalled 1927 as a pivotal year of his life. Fuller was still feeling responsible for the death of his daughter Alexandra, who had died in 1922 from complications from polio and spinal meningitis just prior to her fourth birthday. Fuller felt a personal responsibility for her death, wondering if her death may have been caused by the damp and drafty home which the Fullers had been living in. This provided motivation for Fuller’s involvement in Stockade Building Systems, a business which aimed to provide affordable, efficient housing.
In 1927 Fuller, then aged 32, lost his job as president of Stockade. The Fuller family had no savings to fall back upon, and the birth of their daughter Allegra in 1927 added to the financial challenges. Fuller was drinking heavily and reflecting upon the solution to his family’s struggles on long walks around Chicago. During the autumn of 1927, Fuller contemplated suicide, so that his family could benefit from a life insurance payment.
Fuller said that he had experienced a profound incident which would provide direction and purpose for his life. He felt as though he was suspended several feet above the ground enclosed in a white sphere of light. A voice spoke directly to Fuller, and declared:
From now on you need never await temporal attestation to your thought. You think the truth. You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others.
Fuller stated that this experience led to a profound re-examination of his life. He ultimately chose to embark on “an experiment, to find what a single individual [could] contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.”
Speaking to audiences later in life, Fuller would regularly recount the story of his Lake Michigan experience, and its transformative impact on his life. Historians have been unable to identify direct evidence for this experience within the 1927 papers of Fuller’s Chronofile archives, housed at Stanford University. Stanford historian Barry Katz suggests that the suicide story may be a myth which Fuller constructed later in life, to summarize this formative period of his career.
In 1927 Fuller resolved to think independently which included a commitment to “the search for the principles governing the universe and help advance the evolution of humanity in accordance with them… finding ways of doing more with less to the end that all people everywhere can have more and more.” By 1928, Fuller was living in Greenwich Village and spending much of his time at the popular café Romany Marie‘s, where he had spent an evening in conversation with Marie and Eugene O’Neill several years earlier. Fuller accepted a job decorating the interior of the café in exchange for meals, giving informal lectures several times a week, and models of the Dymaxion house were exhibited at the café. Isamu Noguchi arrived during 1929—Constantin Brâncuși, an old friend of Marie’s, had directed him there—and Noguchi and Fuller were soon collaborating on several projects, including the modeling of the Dymaxion car based on recent work by Aurel Persu. It was the beginning of their lifelong friendship.
Fuller taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina during the summers of 1948 and 1949, serving as its Summer Institute director in 1949. There, with the support of a group of professors and students, he began reinventing a project that would make him famous: the geodesic dome. Although the geodesic dome had been created some 30 years earlier by Dr. Walther Bauersfeld, Fuller was awarded United States patents. He is credited for popularizing this type of structure.
One of his early models was first constructed in 1945 at Bennington College in Vermont, where he frequently lectured. In 1949, he erected his first geodesic dome building that could sustain its own weight with no practical limits. It was 4.3 meters (14 feet) in diameter and constructed of aluminum aircraft tubing and a vinyl-plastic skin, in the form of an icosahedron. To prove his design, and to awe non-believers, Fuller suspended from the structure’s framework several students who had helped him build it. The U.S. government recognized the importance of his work, and employed his firm Geodesics, Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina to make small domes for the Marines. Within a few years there were thousands of these domes around the world.
His first “continuous tension – discontinuous compression” geodesic dome (full sphere in this case) was constructed at the University of Oregon Architecture School in 1959 with the help of students. These continuous tension – discontinuous compression structures featured single force compression members (no flexure or bending moments) that did not touch each other and were ‘suspended’ by the tensional members.
For the next half-century, Fuller developed many ideas, designs and inventions, particularly regarding practical, inexpensive shelter and transportation. He documented his life, philosophy and ideas scrupulously by a daily diary (later called the Dymaxion Chronofile), and by twenty-eight publications. Fuller financed some of his experiments with inherited funds, sometimes augmented by funds invested by his collaborators, one example being the Dymaxion car project.
The Montreal Biosphère by Buckminster Fuller, 1967
International recognition began with the success of huge geodesic domes during the 1950s. Fuller lectured at NC State University in Raleigh in 1949, where he met James Fitzgibbon, who would become a close friend and colleague. Fitzgibbon was director of Geodesics, Inc. and Synergetics, Inc. the first licensees to design geodesic domes. Thomas C. Howard was lead designer, architect and engineer for both companies. From 1959 to 1970, Fuller taught at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU). Beginning as an assistant professor, he gained full professorship in 1968, in the School of Art and Design. Working as a designer, scientist, developer, and writer, he lectured for many years around the world. He collaborated at SIU with the designer John McHale. In 1965, Fuller inaugurated the World Design Science Decade (1965 to 1975) at the meeting of the International Union of Architects in Paris, which was, in his own words, devoted to “applying the principles of science to solving the problems of humanity.” Later in his SIU tenure, Fuller was also a visiting professor at SIU Edwardsville, where he designed the dome for the campus Religious Center.
Buckminster Fuller, lecture tour 1972-3, University of California at Santa Barbara.
Fuller believed human societies would soon rely mainly on renewable sources of energy, such as solar- and wind-derived electricity. He hoped for an age of “omni-successful education and sustenance of all humanity.” Fuller referred to himself as “the property of universe” and during one radio interview he gave later in life, declared himself and his work “the property of all humanity”. For his lifetime of work, the American Humanist Association named him the 1969 Humanist of the Year.
In 1976, Fuller was a key participant at UN Habitat I, the first UN forum on human settlements.
Fuller was awarded 28 United States patents and many honorary doctorates. In 1960, he was awarded the Frank P. Brown Medal from The Franklin Institute. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1968. In 1968 he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full Academician in 1970. In 1970 he received the Gold Medal award from the American Institute of Architects. He also received numerous other awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to him on February 23, 1983 by President Ronald Reagan.
Last filmed appearance
Fuller’s last filmed interview took place on April 3, 1983, in which he presented his analysis of Simon Rodia‘s Watts Towers as a unique embodiment of the structural principles found in nature. Portions of this interview appear in I Build the Tower, a documentary film on Rodia’s architectural masterpiece.
Gravestone (see trim tab)
Fuller died on July 1, 1983, 11 days before his 88th birthday. During the period leading up to his death, his wife had been lying comatose in a Los Angeles hospital, dying of cancer. It was while visiting her there that he exclaimed, at a certain point: “She is squeezing my hand!” He then stood up, suffered a heart attack, and died an hour later, at age 87. His wife of 66 years died 36 hours later. They are buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Philosophy and worldview
The grandson of Unitarian minister Arthur Buckminster Fuller, R. Buckminster Fuller was also Unitarian. Buckminster Fuller was an early environmental activist. He was very aware of the finite resources the planet has to offer, and promoted a principle that he termed “ephemeralization“, which, in essence—according to futurist and Fuller disciple Stewart Brand—Fuller coined to mean “doing more with less”. Resources and waste material from cruder products could be recycled into making more valuable products, increasing the efficiency of the entire process. Fuller also introduced synergetics, an encompassing term which he used broadly as a metaphoric language for communicating experiences using geometric concepts and, more specifically, to reference the empirical study of systems in transformation, with an emphasis on total system behaviour unpredicted by the behaviour of any isolated components. Fuller coined this term long before the term synergy became popular.
Fuller was a pioneer in thinking globally, and he explored principles of energy and material efficiency in the fields of architecture, engineering and design. He cited François de Chardenedes’ opinion that petroleum, from the standpoint of its replacement cost out of our current energy “budget” (essentially, the net incoming solar flux), had cost nature “over a million dollars” per U.S. gallon (US$300,000 per litre) to produce. From this point of view, its use as a transportation fuel by people commuting to work represents a huge net loss compared to their earnings. An encapsulation quotation of his views might be, “There is no energy crisis, only a crisis of ignorance.”
Fuller was concerned about sustainability and about human survival under the existing socio-economic system, yet remained optimistic about humanity’s future. Defining wealth in terms of knowledge, as the “technological ability to protect, nurture, support, and accommodate all growth needs of life,” his analysis of the condition of “Spaceship Earth” caused him to conclude that at a certain time during the 1970s, humanity had attained an unprecedented state. He was convinced that the accumulation of relevant knowledge, combined with the quantities of major recyclable resources that had already been extracted from the earth, had attained a critical level, such that competition for necessities was not necessary anymore. Cooperation had become the optimum survival strategy. “Selfishness,” he declared, “is unnecessary and hence-forth unrationalizable…. War is obsolete.” He criticized previous utopian schemes as too exclusive, and thought this was a major source of their failure. To work, he thought that a utopia needed to include everyone.
So it is not surprising that he and others of his stature were attracted by Korzybski‘s ideas in general semantics. General semantics is a discipline of mind that seeks to unify persons and nations by changing their worldview reaction and the philosophy of their expression. In the 1950s Fuller attended seminars and workshops organized by the Institute of General Semantics, and he delivered the annual Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture in 1955. Korzybski is mentioned in the Introduction of his book Synergetics. The two gentlemen shared a remarkable amount of similarity in their formulations of general semantics.
In his 1970 book I Seem To Be a Verb, he wrote: “I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process—an integral function of the universe.”
Fuller wrote that the natural analytic geometry of the universe was based on arrays of tetrahedra. He developed this in several ways, from the close-packing of spheres and the number of compressive or tensile members required to stabilize an object in space. One confirming result was that the strongest possible homogeneous truss is cyclically tetrahedral.
He had become a guru of the design, architecture, and ‘alternative’ communities, such as Drop City, the community of experimental artists to whom he awarded the 1966 “Dymaxion Award” for “poetically economic” domed living structures.
Major design projects
A geodesic sphere
The geodesic dome
Fuller was most famous for his lattice shell structures – geodesic domes, which have been used as parts of military radar stations, civic buildings, environmental protest camps and exhibition attractions. An examination of the geodesic design by Walther Bauersfeld for the Zeiss-Planetarium, built some 20 years prior to Fuller’s work, reveals that Fuller’s Geodesic Dome patent (U.S. 2,682,235; awarded in 1954), follows the same design as Bauersfeld’s.
Their construction is based on extending some basic principles to build simple “tensegrity” structures (tetrahedron, octahedron, and the closest packing of spheres), making them lightweight and stable. The geodesic dome was a result of Fuller’s exploration of nature’s constructing principles to find design solutions. The Fuller Dome is referenced in the Hugo Award-winning novel Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner, in which a geodesic dome is said to cover the entire island of Manhattan, and it floats on air due to the hot-air balloon effect of the large air-mass under the dome (and perhaps its construction of lightweight materials).
In the 1930s, Fuller designed and built prototypes of what he hoped would be a safer, aerodynamic car, which he called the Dymaxion. (“Dymaxion” is said to be a syllabic abbreviation of dynamic maximum tension, or possibly of dynamic maximum ion.) Fuller worked with professional colleagues for three years beginning in 1932 on a design idea Fuller had derived from aircraft technologies. The three prototype cars were different from anything being sold at the time. They had three wheels: two front drive wheels and one rear, steered wheel. The engine was in the rear, and the chassis and body were original designs. The aerodynamic, somewhat tear-shaped body was large enough to seat eleven people and was about 18 feet (5.5 m) long, resembling a blend of a light aircraft (without wings) and a Volkswagen van of 1950s vintage. All three prototypes were essentially a mini-bus, and its concept long predated the Volkswagen Type 2 mini-bus conceived in 1947 by Ben Pon.
Despite its length, and due to its three-wheel design, the Dymaxion turned on a small radius and could easily be parked in a tight space. The prototypes were efficient in fuel consumption for their day, traveling about 30 miles per gallon. Fuller contributed a great deal of his own money to the project, in addition to funds from one of his professional collaborators. An industrial investor was also very interested in the concept. Fuller anticipated that the cars could travel on an open highway safely at up to about 160 km/h (99 mph), but, in practice, they were difficult to control and steer above 80 km/h (50 mph). Investors backed out and research ended after one of the prototypes was involved in a high-profile collision that resulted in a fatality. In 2007, Time Magazine reported on the Dymaxion as one of the “50 worst cars of all time”.
In 1943, industrialist Henry J. Kaiser asked Fuller to develop a prototype for a smaller car, but Fuller’s five-seater design was never developed further.
A Dymaxion house at The Henry Ford.
Fuller’s energy-efficient and inexpensive Dymaxion house garnered much interest, but has never been produced. Here the term “Dymaxion” is used in effect to signify a “radically strong and light tensegrity structure”. One of Fuller’s Dymaxion Houses is on display as a permanent exhibit at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. Designed and developed during the mid-1940s, this prototype is a round structure (not a dome), shaped something like the flattened “bell” of certain jellyfish. It has several innovative features, including revolving dresser drawers, and a fine-mist shower that reduces water consumption. According to Fuller biographer Steve Crooks, the house was designed to be delivered in two cylindrical packages, with interior color panels available at local dealers. A circular structure at the top of the house was designed to rotate around a central mast to use natural winds for cooling and air circulation.
Conceived nearly two decades before, and developed in Wichita, Kansas, the house was designed to be lightweight and adapted to windy climates. It was to be inexpensive to produce and purchase, and assembled easily. It was to be produced using factories, workers, and technologies that had produced World War II aircraft. It was ultramodern-looking at the time, built of metal, and sheathed in polished aluminum. The basic model enclosed 90 m2 (970 sq ft) of floor area. Due to publicity, there were many orders during the early Post-War years, but the company that Fuller and others had formed to produce the houses failed due to management problems.
In 1969, Fuller began the Otisco Project, named after its location in Otisco, New York. The project developed and demonstrated concrete spray technology used in conjunction with mesh covered wireforms as a viable means of producing large scale, load bearing spanning structures built on site without the use of pouring molds, other adjacent surfaces or hoisting.
The initial construction method used a circular concrete footing in which anchor posts were set. Tubes cut to length and with ends flattened were then bolted together to form a duodeca-rhombicahedron (22-sided hemisphere) geodesic structure with spans ranging to 60 feet (18 m). The form was then draped with layers of ¼-inch wire mesh attached by twist ties. Concrete was then sprayed onto the structure, building up a solid layer which, when cured, would support additional concrete to be added by a variety of traditional means. Fuller referred to these buildings as monolithic ferroconcrete geodesic domes. The tubular frame form proved too problematic when it came to setting windows and doors, and was abandoned. The second method used iron rebar set vertically in the concrete footing and then bent inward and welded in place to create the dome’s wireform structure and performed satisfactorily. Domes up to three stories tall built with this method proved to be remarkably strong. Other shapes such as cones, pyramids and arches proved equally adaptable.
The project was enabled by a grant underwritten by Syracuse University and sponsored by US Steel (rebar), the Johnson Wire Corp, (mesh) and Portland Cement Company (concrete). The ability to build large complex load bearing concrete spanning structures in free space would open many possibilities in architecture, and is considered as one of Fuller’s greatest contributions.
Dymaxion map and World Game
Fuller also designed an alternative projection map, called the Dymaxion map. This was designed to show Earth’s continents with minimum distortion when projected or printed on a flat surface. In the 1960s, Fuller developed the World Game, a collaborative simulation game played on a 70-by-35-foot Dymaxion map, in which players attempt to solve world problems. The object of the simulation game is, in Fuller’s words, to “make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”
Fuller was a frequent flier, often crossing time zones. He famously wore three watches; one for the current zone, one for the zone he had departed, and one for the zone he was going to. Fuller also noted that a single sheet of newsprint, inserted over a shirt and under a suit jacket, provided completely effective heat insulation during long flights.
He experimented with polyphasic sleep, which he called Dymaxion sleep. In 1943, he told Time Magazine that he had slept only two hours a day for two years. He quit the schedule because it conflicted with his business associates’ sleep habits, but stated that Dymaxion sleep could help the United States win World War II.
Fuller documented his life copiously from 1915 to 1983, approximately 270 feet (82 m) of papers in a collection called the Dymaxion Chronofile. He also kept copies of all incoming and outgoing correspondence. The enormous Fuller Collection is currently housed atStanford University.
If somebody kept a very accurate record of a human being, going through the era from the Gay 90s, from a very different kind of world through the turn of the century—as far into the twentieth century as you might live. I decided to make myself a good case history of such a human being and it meant that I could not be judge of what was valid to put in or not. I must put everything in, so I started a very rigorous record.
In his youth, Fuller experimented with several ways of presenting himself: R. B. Fuller, Buckminster Fuller, but as an adult finally settled on R. Buckminster Fuller, and signed his letters as such. However, he preferred to be addressed as simply “Bucky”.
Language and neologisms
Buckminster Fuller spoke and wrote in a unique style and said it was important to describe the world as accurately as possible. Fuller often created long run-on sentences and used unusual compound words (omniwell-informed, intertransformative, omni-interaccommodative, omniself-regenerative) as well as terms he himself invented.
Fuller used the word Universe without the definite or indefinite articles (the or a) and always capitalized the word. Fuller wrote that “by Universe I mean: the aggregate of all humanity’s consciously apprehended and communicated (to self or others) Experiences.”
The words “down” and “up”, according to Fuller, are awkward in that they refer to a planar concept of direction inconsistent with human experience. The words “in” and “out” should be used instead, he argued, because they better describe an object’s relation to a gravitational center, the Earth. “I suggest to audiences that they say, ‘I’m going “outstairs” and “instairs.”‘ At first that sounds strange to them; They all laugh about it. But if they try saying in and out for a few days in fun, they find themselves beginning to realize that they are indeed going inward and outward in respect to the center of Earth, which is our Spaceship Earth. And for the first time they begin to feel real ‘reality.'”
“World-around” is a term coined by Fuller to replace “worldwide”. The general belief in a flat Earth died out in classical antiquity, so using “wide” is an anachronism when referring to the surface of the Earth—a spheroidal surface has area and encloses a volume but has no width. Fuller held that unthinking use of obsolete scientific ideas detracts from and misleads intuition. Other neologisms collectively invented by the Fuller family, according to Allegra Fuller Snyder, are the terms “sunsight” and “sunclipse”, replacing “sunrise” and “sunset” to overturn the geocentric bias of most pre-copernican celestial mechanics.
Fuller also invented the word “livingry,” as opposed to weaponry (or “killingry”), to mean that which is in support of all human, plant, and Earth life. “The architectural profession—civil, naval, aeronautical, and astronautical—has always been the place where the most competent thinking is conducted regarding livingry, as opposed to weaponry.”
As well as contributing significantly to the development of tensegrity technology, Fuller invented the term “tensegrity” from tensional integrity. “Tensegrity describes a structural-relationship principle in which structural shape is guaranteed by the finitely closed, comprehensively continuous, tensional behaviors of the system and not by the discontinuous and exclusively local compressional member behaviors. Tensegrity provides the ability to yield increasingly without ultimately breaking or coming asunder.”
“Dymaxion” is a portmanteau of “dynamic maximum tension”. It was invented about 1929 by two admen at Marshall Field’s department store in Chicago to describe Fuller’s concept house, which was shown as part of a house of the future store display. They created the term utilizing three words that Fuller used repeatedly to describe his design – dynamic, maximum, and ion.
Buckminster Fuller Websites
- Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI)
- The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller
- Bucky Fuller FAQ
- Buckminster Fuller Virtual Institute
- Buckminster Fuller; From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
- Buckminster Fuller Quotes; From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
- Fuller (R. Buckminster) Papers
- The Planet’s Friendly Genius – Buckminster Fuller
- Synergetics by R. Buckminster Fuller — Full Text On-Line
- Grunch of Giants
- Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth (BFI Version)
- Buckminster Fuller – Grunch of Giants (pdf document)
- Everything I Know – Video Transcript
- Design Science Decade (Various Documents)
- Guinea Pig B
- Kirby Urner’s blog: Grain of Sand: Kirby Plays World Game
- Kirby Urner’s blog: Control Room: Operation Spaceship Earth
- Kirby Urner’s blog: On the road with Global Data
- Greg Watson’s blog: 12 Degrees of Freedom
- dMass: A Revolution in the way we define, measure, and pursue wealth
- Gil Friend’s blog: Strategic Sustainability, and other worthy themes of our time
- Scale Independent Thought: Bonnie DeVarco explores the arcs & edges of visual experience
- Autonomous Housing
- BLOG: Dymaxion World: Between Utopia and Oblivion
- Michael Riversong’s blog
- Joo Hock’s blog: “Bucky’s “University” (aka University of Life)
- Leif Thor’s blog: A Conversation about Structure
- A Fuller Explanation: The Synergetic Geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller by Amy Edmondson — Full Text On-Line
- Synergetics Collaborative
- Synergetics on the Web
- Richard Hawkins Synergetic Geometry
- Robert W. Gray’s Notes to R. Buckminster Fuller’s Work
- Russell Chu’s Hope Page
- George W. Hart — Index
- Waterman Polyhedron
- Flexible Polyhedra
- The Math Forum
- Center for Tetrahedron Studies
- An Introduction to the Energetic-Synergetic Geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller
- GENI: A Working Solution to the Worlds Problems ! Global Energy Network International
- World Game Institute
- Critical Path Project
- Whole Systems
- New Civilization Network
- News for a Synergic Earth
- Global Ecovillage Network
- Sonic Bloom
- Geodesic Dome Housing Manufacturers – dome housing
- EcoBusiness Links Directory of Geodesic Dome Homes
- Geometrica Inc.
- Professional Dome Plans
- Pacific Domes
- Timberline Geodesics
- Walt’s Dome Page
- Geodesics Unlimited
- The DomeHome Companion Web Site
- American Ingenuity, Inc.
- Astro-Tec Inc.
- Dome Incorporated
- Geodesic Domes and Homes
- Domtec International
- Applied Geodesics, Inc.
- Albata Domes
- Energy Structures, Inc.
- Geo Tech Systems. Inc.
- Good Karma Domes
- Lydick’s Domes Unlimited
- SouthEast Domes
- SouthEast Domes
- Pacific Domes
- The Horton Dome
- Kwickset Konstruction Kits Dome Homes
- Natural Spaces Domes
- Natural Habitat Domes
- Worldflower Garden Domes
- Oregon Dome, Inc.
- The Dome Company
- Igla-Desic Structures
- Archway Construction & Consulting
- Project Bio/Home
- Solardome Industries Ltd.
- Domes Northwest
- Megadome Construction Company
- Growing Spaces, Inc.
- markt’s (geodesic) Dome page
- New Age Construction Co.
- Shelter Systems
- Starnet International Corp.
- Common Wealth Solar Svs.
- Starplate Building System
- Dome Corporation Of North America
- Institute for Lightweight Structures
- Geodesic Structures by Steve Miller
- J.W. Rich and Geodesics NZ
- Growing Spaces
- SYNERGETICS, INC.
- Geodesic Domes and Charts of the Heavens
- RBF Dome NFP
- Desert Domes
- Geodesic Dome Education: An Introduction by William Lauritzen
- How to Build a Geodesic Dome out of Cardboard
- Geodesic Clubhouse
- Growing Spaces, Inc.
- Lodge Tech
- Dymaxion Car
- 3d model of the dymaxion car
- Fuller’s Dymaxion House
- Mathematics and Tensegrity
- A Practical Guide to Tensegrity Design
- Jay Salsburg’s Geodesic Math page
- Fullerenes At Widener
- Kim Allen’s Fullerene Page
- Geometry Of Fullerenes
- Fullerene Science Module
- Carbon Cages: LBL Scientists Study Fullerenes
- CJ Fearnley
- R. W. Gray
- Kirby Urner
- Bob Burkhardt’s Website
- The Planet’s Friendly Genius – Buckminister Fuller By Mary Bellis
- Tetworld Center for Peace and Global Strategic Gaming
- Pat Salsbury’s “Reality Sculptors” Web Site
- Michael Stutz
- A site about connecting the arts and sciences
- A (Buckminster) Fuller Universe
- The Bucky Fuller Travelling Miracle Medicine Show
- Blaine A. D’Amico’s web site
- Portrait of the Atom as a Force Diagram in Space
- 1946 Fortune Article
- 3D freeCAD
- Compression and Tension are good; Torque’s a Killer.
- Victor Acevedo
- Polymorf, Inc.
- Living Machines
- Paul Fernhout: Themes: OHS / DKR vs. Design Science
- Buckminster Fuller: Illusive Mutant Artist by Victoria Vesna
- The Design-Science Revolution of R. Buckminster Fuller Outlined And Expanded by Libby Hubbard
- Elser’s Screw
- Waterman Polyhedra: Convex Hulls in the IVM
- biagio di carlo’s Site
- Natural Synergies
- OS 012
- Buckminster Fuller’s Tetrascroll: Oklahoma City Museum of Art
- American Masters: Buckminster Fuller: Thinking Out Loud
- Buckminster Fuller On PBS
- Buckminster Fuller On PBS
- WNET: Bucky Fuller Dymaxion House
- WNET: Bucky Fuller Dymaxion Bathroom
- R. Buckminster Fuller (Bucky)
- Artist: F: BUCKMINSTER FULLER
- Ask Jeeves: Fuller
- Architecture–Wright and Fuller
- Buckminster Fuller Links
- Bonnie DeVarco Portfolio
- Stafford Beer
- Buckminster Fuller Postage Stamp
- The Fuller Edutainment Company, Inc.
- Ecological Engineering: THE BIO-REMEDIATION BARGE
- Dymax Emergency Shelters
- Alain LOBEL Architect
- Nick Consoletti
- Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient R. Buckminster Fuller
- Buckyball: a C60 molecule
- The Buckyball: An Excruciatingly Researched Report
- What is a geodesic dome – Architecture Glossary
- 3d model of the dymaxion car
- Buckminster Fuller Paraphrased
- From Platonic bodies to geodesic spheres, fullerenes, and virus
- The Walter O’Malley – Buckminster Fuller Connection
- The geodesic works of Richard Buckminster Fuller, 1948-68 : (the universe as a home of man) Yunn Chii Wong
- World Shelters
- Ocean Wave Energy Converter
- R. Buckminster Fuller Inventor, Designer, Architect, Theorist (1895-1983)
- Dipolygonids – Jitterbug Transformers
- Field Structure Theory
- wholemovement the art and geometry of folding circles by Bradford Hansen-Smith
- The Synergetic Temperament System
- Everything I Know: The historic 42-hour session with Bucky
- Strategic questions
- Koenig Associates, Inc.
- Nanomechanics: Bringing a nanotouch to Biology
- Adrian Rossiter’s Polyhedra Software and Images
- Flowerday’s Synetic Structures
- November/December 1970 of Mother Earth News article on World Game
- R. Buckminster Fuller: Designer of the Geodesic Dome and the World Game (May/June 1971)
- How to Know Your Life Purpose plus How You Can Make a BIG Difference
- BUCKMINSTER FULLER: DESIGNER OF A NEW WORLD 1895-1983
- Doing Life International Inc.
- Project Earth
- The buckymap puzzle
- The Resonance Project Foundation
- Conversations with Bucky
- Leadership By Design: How One Individual Can Change The World
- On Fuller Living
- The geodesic works of Richard Buckminster Fuller, 1948-68: (the universe as a home of man) Authors: Wong, Yunn Chii (PhD thesis)
- Bucky Fuller and his World Game: an Intro to Saving Planets
- Bucky is Back
- Geodesic Help Group
- GEODESIC 3D Collection on Google
- GEODESIC Catalogs 3D Collection on Google
- The R. Buckminster Fuller Collection at Stanford
- World Resources Simulation Center
- The World of Professor Michael Burt
- Geometry of Nature
- L. Steven Sieden’s Buckminster Fuller site
- New Tools Lab