When you become a member of BFI at the Dymaxion level or above, you receive a necklace modeled on the buckminsterfullerene, the elegant molecule that affirmed Buckminster Fuller’s life’s work exploring the geometry of nature.
If you’re not familiar with this story, you’re in for quite a treat.
Art lends insight to science
In 1985, the chemists Harry Kroto and Richard Smalley embarked on an art project to model a molecule with 60 carbon atoms. With their colleague Robert Curl, they had discovered this molecule by bombarding carbon with lasers to mimic interstellar space. A decade later, they won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discovery, identifying a third form of carbon alongside graphite and diamond.
Inspired by the geodesic domes
Fuller’s work had made an impression on Kroto with the design of the geodesic dome at the 1967 World Expo in Montreal. As Kroto explored the shape for Carbon 60, he used the dome as inspiration and made a model by arranging hexagons and pentagons within a spherical lattice. He named it the “buckminsterfullerene” to honor Fuller’s important role in inspiring the discovery. Watch Kroto and Smalley describe this in their own words.
Integrity and the shape of space
The buckminsterfullerene is one of the strongest and most symmetrical molecules ever discovered. Nanotechnology uses “buckyballs” and “buckytubes” to form strong carbon molecules used in fields ranging from aeronautics to medicine.
For more about the influence of Fuller’s architecture on the discovery of the buckminsterfullerene, see Sir Harry Kroto’s paper, “An Arts Project Uncovering an Important Scientific Advance.”
We’d like to take a moment to honor, say a grand thank you, and bid farewell to Sir Harry Kroto, who passed away last April.
We look forward to sharing more stories about the far-ranging effects of Fuller’s work and collaborating with you on projects integrating art, science, and technology to design a future that works for 100% of humanity.
Enjoy the Holidays,
Amanda Joy Ravenhill
On behalf of the BFI team