In 1962, R. Buckminster Fuller published plans for a, “giant, 200-foot diameter… miniature earth — the most accurate global representation of our planet ever to be realized.” The Geoscope would be a massive 3-D educational environment, using an array of computers and databases to display real-time and historical data on nearly any world situation.
Fuller on the Geoscope:
“The most usefully informative model of the Geoscope now under consideration is a 200-foot-diameter, structurally gossamer, look-into-able and look-out-able, geodesic sphere to be suspended with its bottom 100 feet above ground by approximately invisible cables strung tautly from the tops of three remotely erected 200-foot-high masts.”
“The vast number of computer-selected, colored, miniature electric light bulbs displayed on the spherical frame’s surface of the 200-foot-diameter Geoscope, with their intensity and diminutive size as well as their minimum distance of 100 feet from viewing eyes (as seen from either the center of the sphere or the ground outside and 100 feet below), will altogether produce a visually continuous surface-picture equal in detailed resolution to that of a fine-screen halftone print or that of an excellent, omnidirectionally-viewable, spherical television tube’s picturing. It well may be that by the time the first 200-foot Geoscope is undertaken, we may be able to develop a spherical TV of that size or a complex of spherically coordinated TV tubes. This giant, 200-foot diameter sphere will be a miniature earth — the most accurate global representation of our planet ever to be realized.”
“This 200-foot-size Geoscope would make it possible for humans to identify the true scale of themselves and their activities on this planet. Humans could thus comprehend much more readily that their personal survival problems related intimately to all humanity’s survival.”
“The Geoscope’s electronic computers will store all relevant inventories of world data arranged chronologically, in the order and spacing of discovery, as they have occurred throughout all known history.”
“Historical patterns too slow for the human eye to comprehend, such as the multimillions-of-years-to-transpire changes in the geology of our planet — for instance, the picturing on the Geoscope Earth in two minutes of the drifting apart of the continental plates.”
“Or in another four-minute sequence picturing, the last four one-million-years each ice ages, spaced 250,000 years apart, their transforming of the world’s oceans into ice cappings, which water shifts reveals peninsulas interconnecting what we now know only as islands — for instance, the Malay Peninsula including all of Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Bali, Sulawesi, and the Philippines, as it did in the last ice age.”
“The geographically varying population growths of our Earth can be run off on the Geoscope at the rate of one second per century.”
“Another change to be illustrated is resource transpositioning, such as the shift in geographical location of the world’s iron metal from the mines of yesterday, much of which is now converted into world-around city buildings, railway tracks, and bridges, all of which later are scrapped when the buildings or railways become obsolete.”
“The 200-foot Geoscope could present the cloud cover and weather history for all the known weather histories as recorded by ship captains around the world and in the recent century by world-around weather stations.
“With the Geoscope humanity would be able to recognize formerly invisible patterns and thereby to forecast and plan in vastly greater magnitude than heretofore.
“The consequences of various world plans could be computed and projected, using the accumulated history-long inventory of economic, demographic, and sociological data. All the world would be dynamically viewable and picturable and radioable to all the world, so that common consideration in a most educated manner of all world problems by all world people would become a practical everyday, -hour and -minute event.”
— R. Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, 1981
from The Geoscope chapter in Critical Path
“… The new educational technology will probably provide also an invention of mine called the Geoscope – a large two-hundred-foot diameter (or more) lightweight geodesic sphere hung hoveringly at one hundred feet above mid-campus by approximately invisible cables from three remote masts. This giant sphere is a miniature earth. Its entire exterior and interior surfaces will be covered with closely-packed electric bulbs, each with variable intensity controls. The lighting of the bulbs is scanningly controlled through an electric computer. The number of the bulbs and their minimum distance of one hundred feet from viewing eyes, either at the center of the sphere or on the ground outside and below the sphere, will produce the visual al effect and resolution of a fine-screen halftone cut or that of an excellent television tube picture. The two-hundred-foot geoscope will cost about fifteen million dollars. It will make possible communication of phenomena that are not at present communicable to man’s conceptual understanding. There are many motion patterns such as those of the hands of the clock or of the solar system planets or of the molecules of gas in a pneumatic ball or of atoms or the earth’s annual weather that cannot be seen or comprehended by the human eye and brain relay and are therefore inadequately comprehended and dealt with by the human mind.
The Geoscope may be illuminated to picture the earth and the motion of its complete cloud-cover history for years run off on its surface in minutes so that man may comprehend the cyclic patterning and predict. The complete census-by-census of world population history changes could be run off in minutes, giving a clear picture of the demological patterning and its clear trending. The total history of transportation and of world resource discovery, development, distribution, and redistribution could become comprehendible to the human mind, which would thus be able to forecast and plan in vastly greater magnitude than heretofore. The consequences of various world plans could be computed and projected. All world data would be dynamically viewable and picturable and relayable by radio to all the world, so that common consideration in a most educated manner of all world problems by all world people would become a practical event.”
— from Education Automation, R. Buckminster Fuller, 1962