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A Moment of Science

Buckminster Fuller and His Geodesic Dome

Ever heard of a man named Buckminster Fuller, or Bucky, as his friends called him? R. Buckminster Fuller was a twentieth century scientist, philosopher, inventor, and was also named a great architect.

Part of what made Bucky so special was his concern for the planet and humanity. When you have a shortage of resources, he said, you get war. Thus, he developed an idea called Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science. It’s a mouthful, but what it entails is his belief that to solve humanity’s major problems, we have to look forward to the future; we have to anticipate what will become problems as resources diminish, etc.

His goal? Quote: “More and more life support for everybody, with less and less resources.” He was especially interested in developing more efficient housing; that is, a new way of constructing buildings so that they provide more housing space with the use of fewer resources. One solution he came up with in the late 1940′s is the geodesic dome, the invention he is most famous for.

The geodesic dome is a structure shaped like a piece of a sphere. It’s made up of a complex network of triangles, and the more complex this network the closer the structure comes to the shape of a true sphere. What’s so great about the dome is that it does exactly what Bucky wanted; that is, it has the highest ratio of enclosed area to external surface. In other words, it uses fewer materials to create more housing space.

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