As early as 1959, Newsweek reported that Fuller
predicted the conquest of poverty by the year 2000. In 1977, almost twenty
years later, the National Academy of Sciences confirmed Fuller’s prediction.
Their World Food and Nutrition Study, prepared by 1,500 scientists,
concluded, “If there is the political will in this country and abroad . . .
it should be possible to overcome the worst aspects of widespread hunger and
malnutrition within one generation.” Even with tragedies like Ethiopia and
Somalia, it is becoming clear that, as Fuller predicted, we have arrived at
the possibility of eliminating hunger and poverty in all the world within
Buckminster Fuller was truly a man ahead of his time. His lifelong goal was
the development of what he called Comprehensive Anticipatory Design
Sciencethe attempt to anticipate and solve humanitys major problems
through the highest technology by providing more and more life support for
everybody, with less and less resources.
Fuller was a practical philosopher who demonstrated his ideas
as inventions that he called artifacts. Some were built as prototypes; others
exist only on paper; all he felt were technically viable. He was a dogged individualist
whose genius was felt throughout the world for nearly half a century. Even Albert Einstein
was prompted to say to him, Young man, you amaze me!
Born in New England in 1895, Fuller grew up a feisty child in
a blue-blooded household. He entered Harvard on a legacy, but was expelled twice (the
first time for consorting with a dance troupe); he then turned to the military. Fuller's
family connections gained him a Navy command (1917), but his innovative nature --- he
invented a winch system for rescuing drowning pilots --- won him an appointment at the
Naval Academy in Annapolis (1918). Here Fuller began to develop his "Great
Pirates" view of history.
After the death of his daughter (1922), Fuller resigned from
the Navy and spent some years depressed and out of work. He resolved this personal crisis
by "committing egocide," that is, by transforming his life into an experiment
for the benefit of humanity. He started calling himself "Guinea Pig B"
("B" for "Bucky").
In 1927, at the age of 32, Buckminster Fuller stood on the
shores of Lake Michigan, prepared to throw himself into the freezing waters. His first
child had died. He was bankrupt, discredited and jobless, and he had a wife and new-born
daughter. On the verge of suicide, it suddenly struck him that his life belonged, not to
himself, but to the universe. He chose at that moment to embark on what he called an
experiment to discover what the little, penniless, unknown individual might be able to do
effectively on behalf of all humanity. Over the next fifty-four years, he proved,
time and again, that his most controversial ideas were practical and workable.
Buckminster Fuller is best known for the invention of the
geodesic dome, the lightest, strongest, and most cost-effective structure ever devised.
The geodesic dome is able to cover more space without internal supports than any other
enclosure. It becomes proportionally lighter and stronger the larger it is. The geodesic
dome is a breakthrough in shelter, not only in cost-effectiveness, but in ease of
Fuller was one of the earliest proponents of renewable energy
sourcessolar (including wind and wave)which he incorporated into his designs.
He claimed, "there is no energy crisis, only a crisis of ignorance." His
research demonstrated that humanity could satisfy 100% of its energy needs while phasing
out fossil fuels and atomic energy. For example, he showed that a wind generator fitted to
every high-voltage transmission tower in the U.S. would generate three-and-a-half times
the countrys total recent power output.
Fuller originated the term Spaceship Earth. His
Dymaxion Map was awarded the first patent for a cartographic system and was the
first to show continents on a flat surface without visible distortion, appearing as a
one-world island in a one-world ocean. His World Game® utilizes a large-scale Dymaxion
Map for displaying world resources, and allows players to strategize solutions to global
problems, matching human needs with resources. His Inventory of World Resources, Human
Trends and Needs was created to serve as an information bank for the World Game.
In some ways, Fullers most significant artifact is the
extensive personal archives that he maintained throughout his life. Buckminster Fuller
died in July, 1983, leaving behind him a thoroughly documented 56-year experimenta
testament to the effectiveness of individual initiative.
from The Great Idea Finder
The Philanthropist from
The Great Idea Finder
Invention of the Geodesic Dome from The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
by R. Buckminster Fuller / Paperback: 471 pages / Publisher: St. Martin's Press (March
When Critical Path first appeared, it was very taken with how different this
world-historical narrative dared to be. The 'Speculative Prehistory' was well outside the
bounds of mainstream scholarship. On the other hand, some of the content not labeled as
'speculative' dove-tailed neatly with a lot of history encountered before..
Buckminster Fuller's Universe: His Life and Work
by Lloyd Steven Sieden / Paperback - 511 pages (August 11, 2000) / Perseus Book Group
A sympathetic, even advocator, account of the life and work of the designer, engineer, and
architect, interpreting his creations as visible models of his philosophy. Well
illustrated, including diagrams showing the principles of his designs.
Buckminster Fuller : Anthology for a New Millennium
by Thomas T. K. Zung, Buckminster Fuller / Hardcover: 416 pages / St. Martin's Press
Great minds most certainly do not all think alike. Case in point: R. Buckminster Fuller,
who revolutionized Western thinking and design, even though only a tiny fraction of his
ideas were ever developed.
Bucky Works: Buckminster Fuller's Ideas for Today
by J. Baldwin / Paperback: 256 pages / John Wiley & Sons (1997)
He was an early proponent of geodesic domes--semispherical structures made up of
incredibly light and extremely strong triangular components--which he recommended for
economical and energy-efficient housing and other purposes
ON THE WEB:
Dimension - Inventor of the Week
Celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and annual
awards to inspire a new generation of American scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.
Buckminster Fuller Institute
Official Web site for his inventions and his teachings.
In 1961 Fuller applied for U.S. Patent #3197927, to introduce his Monohex structures which
he called "Flys Eye" domes. In 1975 Bucky commissioned John Warren to
investigate the design and to prototype the Flys Eye domes in fiberglass.
Fuller wanted to use the techniques of mass production in creating
efficient affordable shelter for the millions of people who needed it around the world.
WORDS OF WISDOM:
For the first time in history it is now possible to
take care of everybody at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. Only ten
years ago the more with less technology reached the point where this could be
done. All humanity now has the option to become enduringly successful."
confident assertion was made in 1980 by R. Buckminster Fuller
DID YOU KNOW?:
- During his lifetime he was awarded 25 U.S. patents
and authored 28 books
- rRceived 47 honorary doctorates in the arts, science,
engineering and the humanities received dozens of major architectural and design awards
including, among many others, the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects and
the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects
- Created work which found itself into the permanent collections
of museums around the world
- Circled the globe 57 times, reaching millions through his
public lectures and interviews.
- Even Albert Einstein was prompted to say to him, Young
man, you amaze me!
- First demonstrated at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. The
Dymaxion Car was a masterpiece of efficiency and economy: it was twenty feet long and held
eleven passengers, but was as light as a VW Beetle, had only three wheels, and got thirty
miles to the gallon. Fuller's car might have revolutionized the auto industry, but a much
publicized crash ---not the fault of the car --- ruined its reputation.