Everything I Know: Section 11
Somebody asked me last night, just at the end if I was going to talk about love. And I said, I’m bound to talk about love. And Andy, one of you, was married, at Christmas time in California, and I went to his wedding, and he asked me to recite a poem that I wrote at his wedding. And I did so, and I really felt very moved to be invited to have my thoughts incorporated in somebody’s wedding, but I also was very interested, the people who were at the wedding were many older people as well as young, and they came up and told me they liked it. There were many faces that I look around of those at the wedding, and I didn’t know my wife and I didn’t know them, and so that I wondered whether they would care for that kind of a poem, but apparently I was really deceptive because older men that I thought would not have been particularly interested in it, came up and said they liked it.
Last May 28th I was sitting in our, working in our apartment on the 31st floor of the Society Hill Towers here in Philadelphia, and it was, the windows were open, and it was a lovely really beautiful late Spring feeling just on the edge of June, and I was actually writing about the twilight of the power structures, which was economics and to my astonishment, really, this never happened to me quite that way, I suddenly had a poem, and I had to write it out, and the poem goes as follows:
Why, yours truly.
I’m not yours.
You’re not mine.
My years of life is 79.
Mysteries deepen, I opine
Curvacious, sulcatious, sulphacious you
I’m nigh inefficacious, what may we do?
I can’t eat you and have you too.
Let’s enjoy laughter, and wisdom too.
You’re eternally lovely, the truly you.
You can’t see me, I can’t see you.
But we may know one another, and sometimes do.
Then learn that we both love, only all that’s true.
Wherefore we both love the truly your.
I’ll love you forever, the truly you.
And, I really feel this very, very deeply about my feelings about humanity. I really do love humanity. It can be very obstreperous, or she can be very obstreperous, humans can be very misbehaved, but I really do tend to a very, very deep sense of affection.
I get particularly in love with those who are participating in experiences such as we are going through together. I’ve got to tell you how much your beings mean to me as I sit here, and I am very deeply aware of your eyes. I can see them all night. And I’m so absolutely overwhelmed by the mystery of the experience that we all go through, of life itself, that, and I’m so astonished at myself and how other why other people also, take everything so for granted, that this was the way it was meant to be and so forth, and there’s a big picture. But all of this, the more I think about it the more difficult it is to understand how such an extraordinary awareness can occur outside of life.
And you certainly are feeling with me that there are times in the critical condition we are, I am confident that all humanity are going through this what I feel is to be a great test. And the thing that I have written and call here, Complexion 1975 I’d like you to look in the Webster’s Dictionary at these meanings for “complexion,” and I’ve been this is the most highly concentrated kind of a statement I could make. And, I am quite confident it is the very heart essence of all the things I am saying to you, and it is being tight, and having been rewritten time, and time and time again, I must tell you every word I use, and looked at, changed them all around, and kept sorting it out. Janet, here, she’s retyped this I don’t know how many times. These things go on and on and on. But, please remember, it is highly concentrate, and I don’t do it to have it flow fast, so I hope that it, that I am so accurate that it will be lucid, and could flow, but there is a whole lot of thought packed in, so it needs to be digested. I do recommend reading it through quite fast, and then coming back and taking it easy.
I’m going to, with the hours that are left to us now, go on some more with the DESIGN SCIENCE and experiences in the design science, and thinking about then, I want you to think about the integration of many things I have given you, at the outset grand strategy, how not to miss anything, how not to miss any of the parameters, at the very outset. Discovering that the thinking had geometry, and going into the geometries, and discovering principles of intertransforming, and discovering which geometries give us the greatest strengths, doing the most with the least. And as we go into the structures I am going to go on through tonight, I think you will feel very powerfully the geometry.
These are all, remember I could get to the point where, we noted that we have conceptuality independent of size or time, and then we introduce the phenomena of time, and that introduces frequencies of modular subdivision. And we saw how that was patterned in relation to the vector equilibrium as either radius or chord of the time increments, the frequency increments, were in exact synchronization of both radial, which would be radius and the circumferential which would be the containment, or the gravity. Really it is the united field theory of the gravitation and the radiation finding that the gravitation was more favorably arranged, the same six vectors because they came back to themselves, and they used their mass interattractability to have a containment, whereas the explosives, the radiants were trying to come apart, and were not helping one another further apart from one another the less they can help one another, and they did not operate together they operated independently. So it is really the difference between SYNERGY, or the behavior of wholes and behavior of the parts considered separately, we see the parts coming apart but not being as effective, anywhere nearly as when you can actually come back to yourself, and really know the words understanding.
I find the word “understanding” when I do the thinking trying I want to understand. When I finally find out where are those star points that are dividing the Universe into insideness and outsideness, so that finding that there are four stars and there are six relationships, and understanding is finding what those relationships are. When you have all the relationships of your system then you understand.
Now, I hope you’ll, I’m doing so much talking and you listen to me so intently, that I don’t really give you the opportunity at this time to begin to develop grand strategy and try to integrate all the things that I am saying. But I have deliberately tried to present the things to you, coming from the whole to the particular in a way that we continually would have to realize that this is related to what I have heard before, and I am very eager that you feel the absolute interconnectedness of everything.
And, so now, thinking a little about all the lessons I had had of the little individual trying to do his own thinking, taking the initiative in the face of the great organized power of society and the great power vested in great states and corporations and nations, and seeing what the little individual could do. And there is that document the 4-D that I spoke to you about. As I wrote 4-D in really great passion back in 1927, at the time that I had to make my resolve to peel off and really do the 90 degree, paying no attention to earning a living any more, I look back there and I see I was terribly overloaded with negative criticism of things that do go on, and I’ve learned not to dwell on the negatives, and really try to, I assume any negative I experience is a gift. This would make me really look and see what is going on, trying to understand what Nature is trying to do, not to emphasize the ignorance of the little humans who were born ignorant in relation to what is happening to them.
I gave you the circumstances of the Beech Aircraft house last night and then gave you my resolve after that experience to commit myself now to shells, because I saw that a great many were inherently preoccupied in the direction where some success would really develop in what we call the autonomous package of the equipment you need to keep yourself clean and so forth to take care of your processes. I showed you the picture of the bathroom, but I did not have the picture, I thought I had it there, but I recall now that we didn’t look at it. Following those bathroom pictures, I came to doing experimental work with an idea that I had had in 1927, at the time of the Dymaxion House, and what I undertook to do real experimental work with occurred in 1948 at the Institute of Design in Chicago, and 1950 at Yale University Architectural School, two separate operations. Where we discovered that instead of having to have a wet bathroom, where you fill the tub full of the water, and have showers and so forth, there is something to be really learned about cleansing of the skin. Because I had had the experience in the Navy back in 1917, of being in the engine room and getting very oily and greasy, and coming on deck, and a very short while later without having anything to actually clean myself up, finding my hands very, very clean, and my face clean, and it was from the great wind, and there was fog, and somehow this wind and fog had a cleansing effect. I was amazed by it, without any soap or anything to help it.
So I was getting into what I called the “fog gun” experiments and I want to point out to you coming back to our experience with hydraulics, we have been thinking about hydraulics and pneumatics. The hydraulics were non-compressible, very much more dense than are the gases. Therefore, when we get to trying to be economical with water and cleaning, you could get into a needle point shower, get where the kinetics of you get high pressure but very fine little droplets, and then because it is non-compressible it really is a little bullet, and you get to a point where the needle-point shower will break your skin, and that is as far as you can go. And still you’re not getting very much greater very much economy with your water.
What I found you could do would be to take compressed air, and atomizing water into the compressed air, that the air itself then, very much less weight than the water, then the air being also pneumatic and so forth, it could really penetrate your pores, and under great pressure without hurting you at all. You could have really very powerful pressure of air on your skin and it doesn’t hurt at all. And I found that it could get into the pores, being really finer molecules than the water molecules, so you get into the pores and if I atomized some water and went in with it there could be a scavenging out of the pores and bring just really float the dirt away. So we went in for such experiments and you’ve seen human beings cleaning buildings, a great operation going, and it looks like they’re using steam up there it isn’t. It’s highly very high compressed air with water atomized in it. And it is cleaning that building just beautifully, doing just what I said. And if you take one of their kind of guns, you might think it would really hurt, hurt your hand it doesn’t hurt you. It might make your arm go like that, but it does not break the skin. So that we got into experiments of that kind at the Institute of Design in Chicago, and we went in for all kinds of study of the different kinds of dirt that occurred around Chicago, and we finally arranged to, we took a lathe, a machine tool lathe, and organized a camera, microscope and camera lenses looking at your hand with a great deal of light, so that your hand would not jerk and so forth we were able to make very beautiful enlarged photographs of the pores of what your skin looks like with dirt on it. And you take a picture of your hand, just the dirty first, and it looks like one thing, but it is completely different when you see it enormously enlarged. There will be literally little hunks lodged out here on the mountain top and so forth, and you can really see how this thing could really work, so we got into studies, then, of all the types of dirt that were known in the total Chicago area, that you might get into there. There are many types you can really classify those.
And, incidentally, a team of the students at the Institute of Design in Chicago went out and interviewed dermatologists in Chicago. In the first place we went to some of the local hospitals, we got names of what were considered the best dermatologists in Chicago, and they called on them, and everyone of them said the worst thing you could have for your skin is soap. So, that was worth paying some attention to, we felt, and so if you could get away of cleaning our skin without use of the soap, it could be very, very excellent, and we found we could.
This came then to problems of different types of guns that you would use, and your supply. In cleaning those buildings they have enormous big engines going and very big compressors and so forth. And what would be the minimum that really would work in your home? Where you could take a bath for an hour out there in a room where you don’t have any drainage because there isn’t anything to drain. How you could really give yourself a very beautiful massage because this also massages the skin very well.
So that we got to the point where we discovered between the Institute of Design, and later on at the Yale project, that it did require quite a high pressure. The usual automobile filling station where they have air compressors and tanks and so forth go up only to about 200 pounds pressure, and this needs to be at greater than 200 pounds. It does not really work well until you get it over 200 pounds. So this isn’t just something you can do with any compressor at all, you really have to have some good apparatus the right apparatus. We found that the Ford Motor Company had developed a special gun for their air compressor where they clean engines, a greasy dirty engine comes in and its cleaned at no time at all with the gun, so that is the same idea, the same air compressor with a little water atomized going into it.
At any rate, I now know that it is highly feasible to do that, and for that reason I have not done much about that bathroom. But that bathroom that you saw you might be interested to know, I had designed it for polyester fiberglass. The art of polyester fiberglass had not advanced to the point where it was a practical matter to manufacture more than just single pieces around the end of W.W.II in the aircraft industry. It had not yet advanced enough, it was not until two or three years later that you began to get a polyester fiberglass of room temperature setting where we could get into the making things such as the polyester fiberglass boats and so forth which have all come along. Really the first of my polyester fiberglass realizations are in the Radomes for the Air Force, and we will come into talking about those in just a little bit here.
But, it is interesting, the bathroom that I designed, and really very much as I designed it, almost off my drawings and patent drawings. And, incidentally, most patent drawings are not the way your working drawings are, but in the case of my bathroom I did use the working drawings to produce the patent drawings, and they are, if you want to look at that patent it is really quite an interesting one to look at. The bathroom that I did design is now being manufactured in West Germany, and is getting into real mass production. The American plumbers plumbing manufacturers and so forth have not yet started moving, they have been bothered by it, so that the Crane Company has on Park Avenue in New York, they have a little room, but they are still taking their fixture, their own fixture and just fastening it to the walls, so they are not really getting into what this really means. But when you get into the polyester fiberglass, absolutely continuous, realize the cleaning capabilities, it is a lovely room to work in, and you’d find it very, very pleasant as a bathroom.
But, I’m quite sure we’re going to be able to go much further, and I also do not want to lose those wastes and so forth, so I think we are in for very new apparatus. It has been extremely interesting to me, going to architectural school after architectural school around the world, and I find that the students are very enthusiastic. I’ve never been able to get the school to literally go into how do we develop the packaging toilet. We should be having a packaging toilet we package our foods inbound, so we might as well package it coming outbound. It is just exactly as easy, and I found that and I did develop, and made a model of a toilet that had plastic sheets in two rolls, and the two sheets then come to the seat, so you’re sitting on absolutely clean pressed plastic, and then the plastic goes together and there is a heat sealer so it then makes into keeps coming out in bags like a sausage machine, and so there is no gas escaping, and this goes off into a dry packaging, and get your dry packages filled up and they’re all clearly marked and so forth with red marking, or whatever it is, and then you seal it up, so these very valuable chemistries can go off where they are supposed to.
I also point out to you, when Nature takes a terrific amount of trouble to separate things, as for instance our liquids and the solids coming out of us, it is preposterous to put them back together again, so it is quite easy then to develop your apparatus in ways that the liquids and the solids do not get mixed up, but it has been, I say, it is seemingly strange to me, whether it is MIT, places where they should, they have, they say, we have engineering, we have all kinds of hydraulics, we know exactly what the frictions are in pipes, and so forth, but and then we have sewage disposal big sewage disposal plants that just cities will buy, but nobody going into direct research to see what this really means. At your own home, really at the site. And it is something that really could be engaged in very, very readily, and there is just no nonsense about it.
But I am quite certain then, I have been pleased that my bathroom has gotten into mass production, but I consider it to be completely obsolete in relation to what we can really do in the way of cleaning yourself, and the way we ought to be really saving and packaging these very, very valuable chemistries.
Now, I’d like to have my first picture tonight. Remember I said I got into grand strategy where I was only going to work on the enclosures, the environment controls, at making, considered the mast became a fat mast, and got into my going back to my mathematics. Remember I had my mathematics for a very long time, and the first actual use of my tensegrity geodesics and so forth was in the development of the map which I published in LIFE MAGAZINE in 1943 when I got into the great circle grids using the vector equilibrium as the base at that time, and later on using the icosahedron as the base, and this particular picture that’s going back to our those are the 25 great circles of the vector equilibrium, and those are the 25 great circles that all go through the 12 points of tangency, spheres in closest packing, those are the total number of railroad tracks in Universe that can by which energy can go from here to there throughout go on and on in space.
And this is, I was unable to find in the pictures that I saw, going back in my slides, I do have a beautiful slide taken in it was published in SCIENCE MAGAZINE, a picture by SCIENCE MAGAZINE in 1947-48, of the first picture ever made of an atom itself, and it is just this same picture. It is really astonishing they are the same picture! It is mildly, if you had some foreshorting of certain lenses wide angle lenses, you can make things you’re looking at a little wider at the center. The picture, the lensing effect in their electron microscope they used, were somewhat that way so the square section is a little more open than the one I just showed you, but it tends to have a highlight there is white right in the front there, where you can make out these same 25 great circles in complete evidence.
Next picture. Now here is at the Institute of Design in Chicago. I took the 31 great circle pattern, because I first thought I would like to 31 great circles resolve everything goes into triangulation. And you get only there are only 4 different triangles may I go back one picture again? If you’ll go to the red there’s a red square, and you go from the mid edge of the red to the center and then go from the center out to a corner of the red square and you will see a triangle which has 1,2,3,4 triangles in it. Can you make out then that in relation to the square there is 1/8 of a square which starts then at the mid-edge and goes to the center of the square, which is dead in the middle of the picture, and then from there to the corner of the square. So you find that there are 8 of those patterns repeated as you go around the square, and each one is broken into 4 triangles, so here you have an omni-triangulation, and just 4 types of triangles, and I thought that this in itself was because everything in great circles is the shortest distance between points, nothing can want to be in any other everything is just where it is most comfortable and it’s not going to transform in any other, because this is already the most economical relationship. So it is inherently a very powerful structure in Nature.
So the picture that I had shown you of the next one where the dome, you’ll see a little dome made of it, using the 31 great circles, and this was at the Institute of Design in Chicago where I explained then that we are going to be able to enclose very large environments with very little material, and you could really then, you don’t need a roof over you and you don’t need walls to keep warm. You are really going to be living in the garden instead of having a house, and you have a lot, but most of your garden is outside and you can’t really use a lot of it in the winter time, so everything can be inside. And so the students at the Institute of Design in Chicago went to work and we developed a two-deck, sort of a veranda structure that was in the back there are trees and a pool, then, out in front of the garden, and they did some very extraordinarily good work at the Institute of Design on this work.
I got these students at the Institute of Design to I gave them a project in which I said, I’m going to give you all, all the money we need, and I’m telling you that our economy is going to absolutely shut down, there’s going to be no opportunity to get things anymore after one week. But I’m going to give you all the money you need to buy anything you need to buy, in any of the stores in Chicago, and I want you to go shopping, and I want you then to get up your lists, and I want you to price it all, and I want more than that, I want the size of the packages that things come in all the containers, and I want all of the weights and so on, I want complete specifications of what you do. There were 30 students and they broke up into teams, and they broke up the different kinds of things your life would need again coming back to the Universal my they worked from my Universal Requirements list, and they had a checklist to be sure they were not leaving something out. They made really extremely good lists, and they talked them over and argued them, and then they all went shopping round the city of Chicago, and these different teams in different areas. And they came back then with a complete filling out, with photographs and extremely adequately performed task. They had that one week to do it, and it was just superbly done.
So now we had this total shopping list and what it would really cost, and then I pointed out to them that many of the things that they had, really all of them were lose items which you could bring into a house, as you know a house. And yet many of them were going to be associated and related, sewing things would be near sewing things and whatever it might be, and there would be a then things that you do in the kitchen, and the cleaning up things, so they certainly needed to be in proximity one with the other. I pointed out to the with the automobile, you have a there is a dash board, and you have a lot of things that are built into your car, and you find that they take up less room, and really more convenient, and sum totally, I’m not talking about what the automobile company is charging for it, trying to make money, but I finally got down to the manufacturing costs. They cost very much less to really have unit mountings, and so we got into the following:
They developed a we found out what the sum total of all the bulk of these would be, and so in their individual packages they are going to take up much more room than if they were literally fastened and arrayed in someplace literally to work with one another. So what we did was to say then, well, we find that on the highway then at that time there was a limit-size truck. 8ft wide was the limit and still is unless you go along with a special escort and in ‘5l you didn’t have that special escort, they didn’t have the mobile home business that you have today. And it could only be so it could be 8 feet high and 8 feet wide, and it could be 40 feet long. I said, alright, we’re going to have such a package, and I realized then that the package not only then has a floor 8 feet by 20 feet, but it has actually four sides to the package, and there are two ends, 8 x 8. So we found that if we had hinges, this made a box and there were hinges there so the side wall would hinge down, and the ceiling would hinge down, and the ends would hinge open, so we found that all of this was a perfectly practical matter. if you then, designed and had things fastened onto those panels, I talked to you about “jig shipping” during W.W.II, when you began to make this delicate airplane wing in this small plant, and then you wanted to be able to get it to the main assembly plant without anything hurting it, we found then we had special riggings, so that the things fitted in place in the truck. So we found that we could fasten all the equipment, the main equipment we had onto one of these six panels. Four of them, twenty by eight, and two of them eight by eight. That’s a whole lot of space. Twenty by eight is 160 isn’t it, so you have 4 x 160. What’s that? 640 + 64 twice on the ends, you’re up to pretty close to 900 square feet here, and this is many of your apartments are only 400 square feet, so 1,000 is a pretty decent little home, really quite a comfortable little home. A house is 1,400 feet, so this is a whole lot of area.
And so the students went to work on the panels and decided how they could arrange certain things to be the most logically in the center of activity, and they had things mounted on the floor base, but made fast you see. Then there were things on the other ones that were all made fast, whether it was beds or whatever it may be, and finally, the whole thing could fold up, but each being designed so that what was on this panel would fit into the space, and the other space panels. It was a superbly well done piece of work, and sure enough we were able then to get up this package which would contain everything that you would possibly want, and without any packaging on it, and already to use when you got there. So your truck box would simply open out and there you could start living, and it would be under a dome. And we were going to be able to put the dome up in a hurry, so there could be then very swift living.
There was quite a lot about that in the Dymaxion World of Buckminster Fuller book, but we also have lots more slides, and we may have some here. I don’t know if they are in the project tonight or not. But this is also then, the Institute of Design and was a very beautifully done reinforced concrete geodesic dome on the 31 great circles, and there, this was done with venetian blind stock. And venetian blind stock where you then made it into a you can put it on the break and make a “U” shape out of it, these “U” channels came together at hubs, and then we simply filled with this was a quick setting cement, and we put because you have the “U” channel that you were filling with cement, you then have a sling across it so you’d have cables running around, so the wires ran around this thing and we filled it I can tell you this is a fantastically strong structure.
Next picture. Then we developed the foldable mobile dome out of the 31 great circles. This picture is down at Black Mountain College, and there were then only the four types of triangles, and there were only four different lengths of edges, and we had hubs, there were four different kinds of hub angles. So we had special made little special aluminum castings where cables the two halves were hollow, so cables could run across each other coming in one side of the hub there were little nodes on the hub for a tube to come on, like corks, but the cork was split open and the cable ran through inside, and these hubs, then, made it possible to have the cables run through between them. And you can see those hubs, they are quite prominent, of the two aluminum castings, and we have then continuous cable from equator to equator, of the we had 31 great circle cables, flexible aircraft cable, the very finest of size. I thing it was 1 or 2/16, quite a very delicate little thing running through these hubs. You couldn’t see it and the tubes as they came up to the hubs we made the hubs themselves like a sphere, a spherical surface, but an Edam cheese cutting through the circle, so it left some so a tube coming up to it could be perpendicular, it is a lesser circle onto the sphere rather comfortably, so it made a comfortable kind of universal joint, and yet there was a centering, a centering node through which the cable led in, so we have then the cable running through, and you tighten this. At the equator, then, we had turnbuckled forms really screw jacks where you let the cable nice and loose and the whole thing would fold up really incredibly beautifully, and then you, if we get the thing up then you just tighten and everything came absolutely rigid, it couldn’t have been better.
Next picture please. This is our dome at Black Mountain College, and erected outside, then we found that when it was up you could dimple it. They are diamonds, and every diamond turns out to be then really two different types of diamonds. You went around pushing in the centers of diamonds and the whole thing stiffened up even more. It became very, very rigid, so it had mountains and valleys and you could put enormous weights on it.
Next picture. Then we had it covered with a pneumatic skin, a double skin and the pneumatic skin was sealed in hexagons and pentagons, because I said alt you can pair triangles into diamonds or you could collect them into hexagons and pentagons, the whole thing goes that way, so we then made a platform. One of the ladies sitting on that platform is my wife Anne, over in the left hand one if you can see behind the young man in the front left foreground. There were three girls sat on the platform and we carried this thing around, it was strange how extraordinarily rigid and stiff it was a beautiful, beautiful canopy.
Next picture. Then it had a hole in the top for the our ventilator, so we were contemplating having the airs coming in the bottom and the top and doing all the kinds of tricks that I have given you about using aerodynamics to do that. That pneumatic skin idea at that time I said the vinyls were not as good as they are today, anywhere nearly. But I told you we have one such pneumatic skin geodesic up at Bear Island which has gone through four winters and four hurricanes, and many more hurricanes than that and all the snow and ice, and hasn’t even deflated. Just original gas put in it and nothing else. So it turns out to be a very practical idea and it will not flutter in any wind. It is extremely, just absolutely firm like human skin.
Next picture. Then we had the next really large size dome was the Fuller Research Foundation up in Canada. This is near Montreal, and we used, in this one got into now the icosahedron, and we get, this is an eight-frequency icosahedron pattern. And I had it at vertexes, tubes running outwardly, and cables running at the head down to the next hub. In other words we trussed the whole thing extremely powerfully. I was trying to get down to the lightest kind of structures, and I wanted to be able to do good static load testing and these took incredible loadings.
Next picture. That is that dome at the Montreal, in the winter of 1950. And then skinned when the Spring came, and the skins are pulled outwardly. The skins are smaller than the dome itself, but pulled outwardly at vertexes so they get hyperbolic parabola surfaces by pulling them that way and they won’t flutter in the winds either. If you put skins over the outside, they tend to wear out on a frame, but on the inside pulled outwardly, they do not tend to do so. We have done a great many of these pulled outwardly skins. They are extremely successful.
Next picture. Here, then is a pulled outwardly skin. This one went to a project down in Newfoundland.
Next picture. And you can see those hyperbolic parabola surfaces very, very accentuated there. This is a very light delicate, you can count your frequency by taking the icosahedronal edge and counting along, just 1,2,3, that was a 16-frequency geodesic. And I made it out of just light wires, that was the kind of wire, fence wire, and we spot welded it. We made it up in, I gave you the other day “diamond sections” and “rafts.” And we made those up in the “rafts” and their ends overlapped at other rafts and they just got actually taped together, but it made an extremely delicate, very, very beautiful structure.
Next picture. Now this is the one at MIT, the boy, Zane Yost there in the background picture. This one was made out of wood with wood hubs. This is one, this type has been used a whole lot since, in the dome book and so forth, and the kids find this excellent. They came up to like spools, the wood pieces then addressed to the spool, and there is a top and a bottom circular plate of wood that held them into the spool, and they are made very well.
Next picture. We are still here back in around 1950, ’51.
Next picture. Then this is at a this is a little different now. North Carolina State College and I had a number of very interesting projects there as the years went on. And this is what I call the automatic cotton mill. You remember that my first job that I had when I left Harvard, my first informal separation, was up in this cotton mill in Canada, and, incidentally, I’ll tell you a little there that I think is important input.
On that job in Canada, working with those cotton millwrights from Lancastershire, England, plus one from Germany who felt rather competitive with the Lancastershiremen. And he was a big spinning frame man. I, they vied really to teach me a little better than one or the other. It was a very exciting experience. At any rate, this machinery being all from abroad. America did not produce any cotton mill machinery. Some how or other the people who controlled commerce and so forth up to the time of W.W.I did not allow cotton mill machinery to be built in the United States. We had to import it all, primarily from England. And this is some of that machinery, and a great degree of cast iron in it. Parts were very often broken in the shipping cases coming across the ocean, many, many broken parts and the man who was the leader, foreman of the group would take me, this was the young man who had been sent up there by the head office to learn about the game. He said, “here are these broken parts, will you find someplace in Cherbourg, Quebec to replace these. And I didn’t know anything about metallurgy but I began to learn really quite rapidly. And I found that there were three or four places where there were foundries in Cherbourg, Quebec.
Incidentally the week I arrived there it stayed 45 degrees below 0 for the whole week. It was quite an experience and in those days there were no such thing as snow plows, and the snow just piled up deeper than a house, so in that town by this time the street was going by the second story windows, so you go out and you go up the railroad track and walk because it is the only way you can get to the mill. And, till I found these other factories where the one of the big Fairbanks Morse Company and so forth, I found good foundries, other machine shops, one place and another, I got where somebody in the machine shop began to tell me what that metal was and what I needed to do, and gradually I learned an enormous amount about metallurgy and certain about machinery, because the workmen would allow me to stay around while they made their patterns, and their castings, and their forms, or as they were cutting it out of a bar stock, or plate stock, or whatever type of steel it might be that had to be machined. And I really learned all the different types of machines that you would processes it to get the shape you wanted. It was terrific kind of experience for a kid.
Now my experience, then, with cotton mills, it happened that when I came to North Carolina State they were eager to have the architectural department do things with other departments of North Carolina State. That is rather unusual in Universities, but they did decide that they might, there were two very powerful departments in North Carolina State where they had world eminence. One is their textile school, manufacturing, because the cotton mills came out of north of America and were moved down into the southern parts when the labor unions began to organize at the time of Sacco and Vanzetti, and so forth. The labor unions in New England began to organize and the owners simply moved right down into the Carolinas and the unions were not prepared for it, and they cut way down, in fact the numbers of operators that I had in Canada compared to the operators on machines in North Carolina they had been cut down 10 to 1, and gotten a lot of automation in so that very few people were attending machines in comparison to my early days. At any rate, they had then, considered by far, the best textile engineering school in America, and possibly in the world, and I developed, then, working with the textile mills and the architectural students, we visited all the textile factories around in North Carolina and I talked to them, the kids, a great deal about this. So then we developed an automatic mill. Whereas the mill that I installed the machinery in in Cherbourg, Quebec the first time was a four-story mill, it was that because you did have water wheels and you there was at that time then the idea of having those overhead shafts, a minimum length. And the mill that I and we did have the same shafting, and the same problems of belting down to the machines, you see this was well before W.W.I.
And, then, when the electric motors did come in and so forth, and when the mills were transferred down into the south from New England, the cotton mill owners doing this in a very overnight kind of a way. They put in electric motors, and they built one-story buildings, and just had concrete floors because the machinery has to be well held, it is very heavy and a lot of vibration, so that everything is one story, and individual electric motors.
So I found, the most modern design of cotton mills, were where they were doing that still.. Now all of this also has to compound the fact that one of the very important conditions the temperatures in the mills. If the temperatures are there are optimum temperatures for production of your fabric.
There are optimum conditions in relation to just the electrostatics and the lintels and things to get around sticking on things and so forth, so they are all air conditioned. So here they are in the south with enormous roof and the sun beating down on that roof, and they’re spending a lot of money on the air conditioning. So, what I found to be very fascinating, was we asked to then take the architectural school and go over and see if we might do some kind of a project with the textile engineering, and I did, I undertook to teach these kids about cotton mills, and we did visit all the factories and so forth, and we did then undertake to designing what I hoped would be a very highly automated, almost completely automated textile mill. And there are certain with the first machines where the unbailings and the breaking opens and then as you get into first cartings and cleanings ups and so forth, and gradually get into a beautiful twisted line and then getting into larger threads and then into making finally into making your fabrics.
And, so there are looms, and there are a series of machines and things to go through. At the cotton mills they have what they call “doffing.” So you fill you are winding things up in rolls, in early times just getting sort of a blanket of the carted cotton and then that blanket goes over to slubbers and blankets are pulled, once you get the fibers getting together, you keep sort of pulling them apart, and they are brought into slubbers, into sort of ropish, very soft ropes, and those gradually get into the point where you get into twistings and then get into your threads and so forth. Now, you continually are loading machines, and then taking off product, and then moving onto the next machine. So this is “doffing.” And they have all kinds of wagons and containers that receive the product, at the machines when it gets full, and the attendants have to watch those, and then they get those over to the next machine and load it onto the next phase of the process to be finally weaving and making a product.
So, what I saw, the biggest part of the labor really going on was the “doffing” and moving things around, and the machines were getting to the point where they were highly automated. They used to have attendants there all the time really watching this thread would break, and all of that was being well, well licked beautiful automation being done in relation to all kinds of problems.
So what I developed with them was a cotton mill where, used the, as in the building of a ship and you go in the engine room you see men walking on like fire escape kind of operation where you only have mount you only have support of the machine where the machine is, you don’t have a lot of floor. In other words you don’t have to have a concrete floor out here for the airplane motor. You have it designed so it goes right onto the plane at the right place, you know how to carry your strength forward to that machine, so you don’t have sort of a general floor. But I found there was again, in the general factory and the general engineering, the way they just want a general floor and you could put the machinery anywhere. This made you way over build your floors because machinery loads, 200 pounds a square foot as against the live loads of human beings of 40 and 50 pounds a square foot. So, what I did was to develop then, the octahedron-tetrahedron truss floors and they are full of holes, of course. And we mounted our machinery radially rather than in parallel banks. It was very easy, really made it very nice going in between them, and the product from the the machines were successive so using gravity the product came down out of the machine on this deck and came through in the machine down below. We were able to aim everything that way, so it was amazing that I was able to get a completely “doffing” proof mill. And you could really have very beautiful air conditioning of the whole because there is aeronautics of a total spherical plenary chamber where things really behaved beautifully. Air conditioning in rectilinear rooms such as we are in is very difficult to accomplish but in a plenary chamber you get just remember the form of that Bikini bomb, it just became a geodesic dome, this is the form that it takes, so that as you have heats rising, it just goes like that, it is involuting or evoluting, it will always be the domical form, so this is a very natural form of plenary chamber.
So we have then the machinery lined up this way and we had the minimum surface for the most volume so the heat gains and losses would be greatly improved, and finally we had it actually coming out of the bottom, and you just really took away actually manufactured end products. And there was nothing wrong with it I assure you. The best engineers in the game studied everything we had here. And there was really no fault with this at all. But it is a sad matter, that the cotton mill industry is one that is really run almost entirely on statistics today, and there is no management around that looks into it is really working against labor and just they have things punching completely automated, computerized reporting. And the stockholders are living somewhere around the world and they simply get their dividends, and there is no management that is really interested in improving the process more they are really leaving it up to the local engineers on the local machinery, but nobody is thinking of it comprehensively anymore.
I found that even though I knew some of the leaders in the cotton mill world, there was no they thought that it was opening up much too much of a problem, but there was really a possibility of instituting really a very, very improved kind of a mill. I felt as mills did go to other countries, and weaving is such an important matter, that this is a form that you can do many things with what I just did here, but it was a generalization of using gravity for the automation, and using the open truss. And we had the truss really only go where the machinery was, and where there were walk ways for the men, but we didn’t put things where they didn’t need any support at all.
Next picture please. Then this was the truss the dome we made at the University of Minnesota. And it was an extremely lovely, lovely dome and we used then very fine woods, and it was very much like making snow shoes, a lovely kind of those used, the light, delicate cross section, pretty much like the tale end of the snow shoe, and they were using, used Dacron cables and so forth, and produced again those diamond I gave you the diamond raft form.
Next picture please because I would like to see more of the dome itself. There you can see one of those rafts this big diamond raft, with parallel members in it as a truss, and it came out very, very light. And we got into some beautiful production skills and setting up the jigging for it. This particular dome we then did produce at the University of Minnesota. It then was on exhibition on the campus for a little while. Then I was asked to take to do something at Aspen, Colorado, in 1951 I was asked to give the Design Conference major speech. So the University of Minnesota Students, we got a truck and I brought these parts out there, and they put this dome up on the grounds at Aspen of the Aspen Institute, and there were many students that came in for that conference and they went out and lived in this for a dormitory.
Next picture please. That particular delicate dome we then did moved back across the country again to, we put it up at Woods Hole, Massachusetts during, while I was putting up the big restaurant dome there in ’53. And we used this dome for all the there were students from ten Universities of America that came into that project, and we manufactured in the shops at MIT, and we put the Dome together, the big Woods Hole Restaurant dome down at the sight, but the students lived in this particular dome as we moved it around quite a lot.
Next picture please. But it folded up, those things went in parallel got very, very tight. It came on a rather small trailer. This is at North Carolina State University, and this is another year where I worked with the Agricultural Engineering. Their Agricultural School is also ranked very, very high, and we developed a growth house. Now we got into studying all of the tray agriculture, and all the hydroponics and so forth, and we found we could develop a growth house, where letting you know, the sun that was an extremely interesting course for all the students, I assure you because the knowledge you are getting, just for instance in cell structure, and getting into biology, all the I have given you the fourteen facets of a tetrahedron the other day, do you remember that? There were six edges, four faces, and four vertexes, that sum total is 6, 4, and 4 is 14. And those could be, each one of those edges could be truncated, or corners could be truncated, and it turned it into fourteen facets. And one could be truncated a little more than the other, so it came out really quite unevenly, but the really number one world, at that time, plant physiologists said “All the cell structure, are always in these same 14 facets.” and we find as you get into plateau and the bubble structures, all bubble structures are always 14 faceted. They could be any number of frequencies so this could seem to be really quite a different looking phenomena, but the faces turn out to be 14, and they are all to do then, with the fundamental symmetry which is there in the tetrahedron.
Now, in this particular project we found that we could develop a double-skinned dome, where we could let have air passages between the two skins, two different domes, an inner and an outer one. And we developed bottom valves and top valves, I’ve given you the way that airs get pulled out in one instance and come in in others, and so there are many valving conditions. An so this became a great valve, and I say with a double skin, so you could have sometimes the air was coming in, up and down, in between the double skins, and other, absolutely beautiful controls. We got into not only the fascinating studies about letting light in, the light periodicity of days and so forth, how you can hold back, as they do in green houses, where there is growth by just leaving the light on all night so the plants are waiting for night, and so they hold off, they don’t get night, don’t have a night, so they simply hold them off day after day, because they work in terms of actually night and day periodicity.
So, we get into much of the fundamental information. We found then it would be quite possible to develop a growth house that would be a saturated atmosphere, because what happens in the hydroponics, you mount your growth and the roots are down in the liquid, and the liquid has all the chemistry you need. We find that in the garden, the earth is simply a mounting. You have the roots, then, dangled, getting into the right liquid with the right chemistries. But the earth itself is not chemistry, it is simply a mounting, so that we could have the right mountings that was found out in hydroponics it works beautifully. So we found that we didn’t even have to have it dangling in liquid, because we found we could make a saturated atmosphere with the right chemistries. This became a fascinating matter.
So then we found that we could, we are again using the tree growth, and I could have various apparatus going out circularly, very much like the cotton mill, with a support for whatever you need all your planting and you would be able, because it is all regular and can be rotated, and so forth and get things in the sun in the right ways, it was also possible mechanically to do various things in the way of cultivation and picking etc., etc. We found that the whole thing really could be automated, so that an automated growth house, I now know really one of the ways in which we are probably going to carry on in very important ways around our world is to get into these growth houses because you can get enormous, enormous sun impoundment with these big spheres, and you can get beautiful addressing of the growth to the sun, and we can get where really the foods are simply coming out the bottom and being driven away. They can come out and be canned or frozen or whatever you want. And off they go.
I’m quite confident now, just like the automated cotton mill and the automated growth house it’s an extremely practical matter. We were into this so deeply that these things were really threshed out. It was not just a week’s project these things. In each case they were really whole half-year projects with THE authorities in the subject, and all the conditions were met. This particular frame was the one that we then later on, carried, that the Marine Corps lifted in that first lift at what we call Orphan’s Hill in North Carolina in 1954.
Next picture. This is the Wood’s Hole Dome, Woods Hole Massachusetts up on a very high point of the land at Wood’s Hole. And, this was the one I said we had students from ten different Universities, and the project was led at MIT. We worked on it for months at MIT, the Graduate School of Architecture, and it was done with hyperbolic parabola diamonds. And as you know hyperbolic parabola just get into you get to dealing in straight lines. I want you to just think about, you can make a diamond flat, and it’s a parallelogram, make some lines running parallel to one set of the edges. And they come, you can have uniform boundary scale on it, so the parallels are equal distance apart. Now, if you, I’m going to take this same diamond, I’ll just draw in some lines on it I’d like you to try this yourself, in fact I think I’ll do it up here on the board.
Now with these we say there is uniform angle. Now I am going to have a bending line of your diamond here, and you mark these points: a, and b and c and d and e, f, g, and so forth, i, j, just so you know them and have when you begin to bend this, bend on this line, you get to a point where a would meet a prime and this could be b and c and so forth. And if you bring this over all the way, you’ll find that the b, I’ll make it a little easier, it’s going to be a, b,c,d,e, then coming back again the same letters, d,c,b,a, so that when you bring this thing over, finally this point which when I bend over, this point here will be here. So the distance between b and that point will be that. This point here is going to be here. So the distance between c and c is this. And the distance between I’ll reverse that a,b,c,d,e d,c,b,a the difference between c and c I’ve shown you, so d and d would be like this. You’ll find that these lines are all different lengths. They were all the same when you started, but they get very different lengths. So I find, just by bending this on a complete axis all the way over you get these different lines, because here is a b and the distance from b to b is here. We are getting shorter and shorter. When they started they were all the same. So I found then that if you just bring this a little way, the lines are changing in length all the way so there is as you keep bending this a little more, different conditions, the lines vary in length but they are no longer the same, once it is not out out in the flat. Can you understand that? Have I made that clear Janet, darling? Could you feel it ? Yes.
So then, I realized that let’s take any geodesic dome and any two each triangle, the edge of a triangle is a cord, and any two geodesic triangles depending on the frequency and the relative diameter, there will be a little different angle between any two triangles. Can you understand that? And we find then, there are a unique set of lengths of lines between points, depending on how much this is, so that I found there was a unique hyperbolic parabola for and all the triangles of the sphere or system, always come out even number, so they can all be paired into diamonds, and they will turn out to be, depending on the frequency how many types of diamonds there are there is a unique for any of those pairs there is a unique set of lengths of lines, so that there is the unique hyperbolic parabola for any sets of hyperbolic parabola for any geodesic dome, of any given size and frequency.
So what we did in this, coming back then to this project at MIT, and bringing in students from many other colleges at Woods Hole was, you see a whole set of diamonds, and those diamonds then they are always made with straight lines, but the lines are different in lengths. So, we then developed the mathematics of that with very great accuracy, made parts in the woodworking shops at MIT and brought them down to Woods Hole. And at Woods Hole we made up jigs for assembling the different styles of diamonds and making things fast.
Then the diamonds, the wood struts in the diamonds, were 1 x 2’s. The edges of the diamonds the big diamonds were 1 x 8’s. And when you brought 2 l x 8’s together, two diamonds coming together, then you’ve got a 2 inch thick, so you’ve got really a very strong beam.
Next picture please. You can begin to see that really lovely hyperbolic parabola surfaces those saddles in each of those diamond forms as they came together. The, I said the students lived in the geodesic dome that came from Minnesota, and we covered it with a white skin down there, and I think some of these pictures may show it, and we had the opening at the bottom, we’d roll up the bottom in the morning, and have the ventilator at the top, and very hot summer sun, that summer we had several very hot days and you’d be loathe to go inside the little dome you were going to feel hot, but again, as our chilling machine, it was really really a charming, charming experience.
Next picture. Could you remove my figure from in front now, because I would like you to really try to appreciate it. We finished this dome, and there we were getting up the framework. And when it was done we put up a rope from the top of the middle of it, the Restaurant had to be there was much work to be done, but this is just getting the frame. The concrete block frame had been the foundations were in, and we had now mounted it on that. And my student friends put this beautiful heavy rope from the top with a big knot in the bottom, and they used to get up on the sides, and this rope stretched, and go around like Douglas Fairbanks flying from a mast to one from sail to sail. And we had a lot of fun in there at night with this rope swinging around, and suddenly we found we had company. That a bat came in every night. The light apparently attracted insects, and the bat operated completely by radar, and he felt his way around, and he went around at an enormous speed, so he was often going around with us as we went around on our rope.
Next picture please. This is the restaurant that was developed and we covered the whole dome with a this is the first one to ever be covered with the Mylar when Dupont first brought out Mylar. It was completely transparent, and for those of you who have dealt with Mylar know it is very tough, incredibly tough, so you could walk around on this, and we found ways of stretching it very beautifully over the skin. We had the restaurant at first, and then we had the lighting on the trees on the outside, and so the light just reflected from the trees inside so it was lovely, lovely in there at night. There were many things that happened about it. I discovered then that because this Mylar skin was on there, the whole of Woods Hole was complaining about the music at night that they were having in the restaurant, because apparently the sound goes outwardly not inwardly, it’s very important, like radiation goes outwardly, not inwardly and it does radiate. And it got all the diamonds all these little facets of our membrane became diaphragms and they simply broadcast, became an enormous broadcasting station, and so that was one problem, and the other was that the owner of the restaurant was also building a big motel. And he had count he had put up his cash to build the dome, and then expected to go to the Bank once he had finished and get mortgage money on it to go on with the building of the motel, and the banks wouldn’t loan him any money. And he said why wouldn’t they lend him any money, and they said because they couldn’t see any dome there. They said there wasn’t anything to it. It didn’t have any substance at all, so he, then, covered it opaquely with plastic and then the banks said, “That is just great,” and so I am sorry to say it has lost a lot of the really beauty it had, and it is still there.
Now it went through, this happened to go through Hurricane Carol of 1953, the year that the Radomes I told you about their being tested on when the physicists were told that they would only take 14 mile an hour winds and that was the same storm. And this one bent trees around, their branches broke over and pierced the skin, but even with pierced holes and so forth nothing happened to it. Many buildings around there did actually get destroyed.
Next picture. Now this one is a paperboard dome on the roof of the Architectural Department at Yale at New Haven. And that was a really beautiful project, and that was in 1951 also. And the same students that worked on this then worked on what I spoke to you about, the fog gun tests and so forth. That was an unusually good class at Yale that year, and I’ve seen a lot of its students as years have gone on, and they have gone on and done some very responsible things. But, they were deeply convinced of the that this really was the way of carrying on in society. This is the paperboard units that they made, they were lovely. We had a big paperboard manufacturing industry then going up in the drafting rooms of Yale Architectural School, it didn’t look like many architectural schools, but everybody loved it. And it was at that school that the, where they had I used to come up in the evening, and there would be United Dome Workers of the World, and so forth. There were four members of the class who were all singers the glee club, and they were doing a lot of singing while they were manufacturing the dome, so I wrote a song for them, and I think I’ll sing it to you right now. You may know it.
There (Bucky does a lot of vocalizing to get the right key, and everybody laughs)There there there there theeerrree-
There once was a square,
With a romantic flair,
Pure Bosan, McKim, Meed and White .
In the mood that ensued
He went factory nude,
Miscropi, Korbusi and Wright.
Roam home to a dome,
Where Georgian and Gothic once stood.
Now chemical bonds,
Alone guard our blonds
And even the plumbing looks good.
Let architects sing
Of esthetics that bring
Rich clients and hordes to their knees
Just give me a home,
In a great circle dome
Where the stresses and strains are at ease.
Roam home to a dome
On the crest of a neighboring hill
Where the chores are all done
Before they’re begun
And eclectic nonsense is nil.
Let modern folks dream
Of glass boxes with steam
Out along super-burbia way
Split level, split loans
Split bread-winner homes
No down money lifetime to pay
Roam home to a dome
No banker would back with a dime
No mortgage to show
No payments to go
Where you dream well and spend your own time.
I’m sorry about the voice-but (laughter)
At any rate, this was a lovely dome up there and it went on very well for quite a while. It was hygroscopic, and they got some rain and it got a little wet around the bottom, but again, it is an interesting thing where they had some people other dormitories got excited by it, and it became a target for fire bombs, and it finally was destroyed.
It is very interesting that Nature has a way of wanting to really test things, and keeps at the number of domes I’ve had that have been destroyed for one reason or another, is amazing.
Now, this one is really not a very impressive dome to talk about. I think that I’ll pass that one up.
Next picture. This is a truly exciting one which occurred at the Washington University at St. Louis. A very good architecture department. You’ll find that not only do we have the 30 diamonds that I spoke to you about in the icosahedron, but it is possible to find points on those diamonds, and I’ll just show you how you go at finding them, where we divide the total surface of the dome into two diamonds, but all the lengths of the edges of the diamonds are the same. Five triangles around each corner, and here we are we go to the centers of gravity of each of the triangles and we get the diamonds. So it goes. Now. It is possible now in relation to the thirty diamonds you’re just seeing here, to find another diamond where there is a point that is equidistant from, you’re going along this line, to where there is a point that is equidistant from these two points. Do you see that? So this makes an isosceles and I go along then, each one of these where I want to get that same (Bucky is drawing on the board now) no question about that now. It keeps breaking into what I call the “fat diamonds” and the “thin diamonds” but all the lengths of the edges are exactly the same. That was interesting to find. This is the largest number of facets where I can get equal length edge. That was a problem we wanted to address at that time, because we were looking for economy. So you get not only the, the, see how many lines you actually have in those diamonds? You have 1 you’ve got 1,2,3,4,5,6 of these in the face for every one of the 20 triangles it has 6 so 120 of those lines here, and it gives you also, there were 30 of these, there are 60, they break into two different ones, so there are 60 and 120 there are 180 identical length pieces make the dome. And really quite a lovely dome.
And then we made those those diamonds were made by taking boards and putting a spreader, fastening the ends together, and putting a spreader, making a little truss form. It was very powerful very elegant and beautiful unit.
Next picture. May I have that picture back of the Washington Dome? And so you’ll see those boys making those trusses for them, and we have we were not making a whole sphere so we didn’t have to make 180, we made the number necessary for this particular one, so those diamonds then could be hyperbolic parabola surfaced, and this particular dome,
Next picture, we went on and finally made this into what you call the “flying seed pod” with the fat and thin domes. Here is the flying seed pod coming out. These are magnesium tubes, and we made very beautiful joints for them.
Next picture please. We made hydraulic we made pneumatic guns where we made a mast come popping up. The boys spread it out, and
Next picture. Then they jump out of the way because this dome opens itself in 30 seconds. There were these struts coming outwardly from the vertexes are pneumatically so we have a gas tank in there. The piston just goes out like that is released and takes this shape. Pulls the cables because the cables cross each other from adjacent masts. So we saw all these things come out in parallel, a minimum form, therefore you had a dome that you really could shoot, as in a rocket, and have itself open itself. But that dome is still out at we moved it from Washington University and got it down gradually to Southern Illinois University. We had it up in the yard but they never put it into operating pop-open condition again. And I’m told recently that one of the professors has it out at his house, so it still exists and could be rehabilitated. it was made out of magnesium. Very, very light. Extraordinarily light.
Next picture. This is one at Tulane in New Orleans, where we began to get into the paperboard. And paperboard is extraordinarily attractive as a matter of economy because of, I said to you, no way that man makes materials and surfaces in such velocities he does, where they’re coming out of rollers, as steel or paper, and being a roller, then, a roller is a printing press so you can print beautiful mathematical information and have things fold on the right lines. So this was just such a project in New Orleans at Tulane, but we found then we could paint the fiberglass with polyester and it made it extraordinarily strong, incredibly strong, and good lasting.
Incidentally I’ve gone into a great deal of paperboard study and, first at MIT, and then I went out to the Paper Institute in Wisconsin, supported by all the big paper companies, and then to the Forest Product Laboratories in Wisconsin where we have all the art and science of making paper. And it is a perfect, I’m going to call your attention just structurally because I have talked to you about tension and compression.
W.W.I, we had only burlap bags, and burlap was used a great deal and an enormous amount of wooden crating. And they were fairly light orange fruit type boxes of wooden crating and others, but W.W.II saw the paperboard paper box, and paper boxes were used for dumping goods all over the world on beaches, and they stand up great this is Kraft paper, and Kraft paper then turned out to be it didn’t bother it at all when it was wet, so that you could have cement in it and all kinds of things it used to be in jute, suddenly were in paper very much more beautifully contained, and not fuzzy and making powders off the sea, jute bags allowed things to powder off, and so we found then that craft paper has very high wet tensile strength, but very poor wet compressive strength, so if you had a container then, full of cans, the cans act as a compressing unit, so it doesn’t collapse, all it needs is really good tension, because it is already closest packed with the cans inside, so it doesn’t find any preferred shape to take. So it holds its shape.
But it would be possible to get high, wet, compressive strength in paper so far as fundamentals would go, but it was found that these were the studies that were made at MIT at the Forest Products Laboratory, and at the Wisconsin Paper Institute. And we found that if you could you could introduce at the “beater” stage of making the paper, you could introduce the chemical ingredients that would bring about the stiffness. At the time that we were making these studies at MIT and other Universities, and these were very popular at the Universities, I assure you, the desirability was in evidence, but the paperboard manufacturers were making so very much money, all their mills were just going full. And they didn’t have any back log time, and so nobody was willing to go to stop any paper mill at the beater stage to make the changes necessary to give us a high wet compressive strength. They could realize it was possible, but it was a multi-million dollar operation in tooling, and nobody was going to stop down for it, so that nothing happened about that. But the point was that we found it was highly feasible.
But what I found I could do, incidentally, the laminates, the glues they used to use in the paperboard were really very poor about coming apart, when they were wet. And the got the resource and all that it got to be pretty good. They made the flutings, these flutings are brought together in double and triple and so forth to give varying degrees of stiffness and where the little fluting just touched and the flat piece of paper then, that’s where you would need then the glues, and be sure you don’t have them deteriorate. And, they did then get to some that would really not come apart and I did have one project at Cornell University where we built really incredibly beautiful paperboard hyperbolic parabola diamond dome, and got the whole and we were assured by the paper company that we bought it from that this was “resourced” and it would not come apart in the wet. But, what we did then, we covered all the outside of all these pieces. They were carefully painted with polyester resin, so they were very, very stiff and strong, and seemingly completely waterproof.
But there were leaks in the thing and so forth, and we got up on the roof, that same roof that you saw the miniature earth on about five-years later. We had this very beautiful hyperbolic parabola diamond dome assembled and came a very great rainstorm, and she just wilted. It was not the water-proof, and they de-laminate internally which was a very shocking thing to the students. The work we put in this, there was over a month of work to get this lovely thing up there, and it just came apart on misrepresentation of the manufacturer there. Those things did not often happen we found, I’m glad to say the manufacturers are usually really very, very thoughtful with our projects, but this was a sad one.
The dome that you were looking at, at Tulane, then, was made using the polyester and painting them, and they were very stiff. That was made for the Marine Corps. And the one you are looking at now was made for the Marine Corps because we found then, that you these are made out of continuous strips, which strips come together to make one of those big diamonds, because you have the parallel lines, and this comes through a roller and printed, and it prints windows into them. And it was double-walled, double thickness. It was a very, very stiff dome.
Next picture. That dome went up in I’m sorry we don’t have the completed dome. The Marine Corps dome did go up in a great hurry, and this is not this is another one in, excuse me, I take it back, that is the Marine Corps dome, this is at Quantico, Virginia. And very interesting things happened with that dome. The Marines liked it alright, and it went together readily. We had one opaque, didn’t open the windows. Those windows you could fold open or not as you liked, and we had it on a out in the parade ground where the grass was all gone, it was just dirt, and the dome was up there and in a few days, apparently the paper let light through so grass would grow, but kept it from scorching. There was the most beautiful circular carpet of green grass came up. And after a while we removed it, there was this lovely circle. At any rate, the paperboard seemed to have a favorable effect that way.
Next picture. This is one at the University of Michigan. Again paperboard.
Next picture. This is the first of the Radomes, polyester fiberglass radomes. The one that I told you the President of MIT, Jerome Weisner was Head of the Physics Project for the Defense Early Warning System and this is the dome that he purchased from me, and which he was advised by the engineers at MIT, the structural engineers, would disintegrate in the 14 mile an hour wind. And this is the one that went then, he had it on his radar out at Lexington at the Lincoln Project and it didn’t come down in the Hurricane Carol, so they then decided to move it this is a picture then, on the top of Mount Washington where it went through two winters two winds of 150 miles an hour and one of 180. And they had prepared, you see this ladder up to the top, and they had prepared a method of cleaning this dome, because they were sure it was going to pile up get so much ice and snow on it that it would hurt the radar signals. They didn’t need to. Apparently, the membrane of our triangles are very stiff edges, they seemed somehow or other like ice box making ice cubes and so forth. It seemed to hold it kept breaking away all the time. They never had to use the cleaning apparatus.
Next picture. This is the beginning then of the big Radomes, getting up to the 55 footers. That first one you were looking at I think was only a 20 footer. This is getting into the big 55 footers.
Next picture. And they went through, this is getting ready for a test of this dome at Huntington, Long Island, where the engineers of the Air Force, then, were going to set about to find out where the strength of this dome was. They wanted to know they were terribly puzzled by the strength. So they set up this dome and when it was finished they put ball bearing shivs all around on all the vertexes for a large zone at the top. And then they ran a continuous cable through the ball bearing shivs down to an enormous composite pulley, go through the cable here, and then through these back and forth. And all those were brought into this one great-big pulley group, and there was an enormous hook on it, and it was hooked into a forged steel ring coming out of a concrete block that they put there.
They hung round from all these vertexes plumb bobs, they had surveyor’s transits, then, lined up watching each one of these plumb bobs and so forth, and watching vertexes, and they put electric strain gauges on the joints all over it. So then they got their electrical readings on the strains that go on these gauges. They then started loading, I asked the Lincoln Project engineers in advance, if they could tell me what they thought it was going to do, and they said, yes, they thought it would stand the tests, they were going to load it to the equivalent of the stress of 120 mile an hour wind, but they said, it was going to deflect on the top like any beam, the whole thing was just going to bend inwardly.
Well, the test went on and Shoji, my partner, and I took a moving picture camera on the roof of the building, right there, so that we could really look at what went on in each of the joints. What happened was that it did not come evenly in at the top like a beam at all. The whole dome contracted symmetrically. You could see as we got up to very high stresses, you could see rotations and so forth almost ripple around the vertexes. Each began to twist locally, very much like our jitterbug. And to contract symmetrically. Well, when they got to 120 miles an hour the concrete blocks came out of the ground. The dome hadn’t gotten into any trouble, so. That was very annoying, so they built then a concrete block twice the size, and then this time the forged steel ring, was just a triangle a triangular ring coming from the block about this thick. It parted at 150 miles an hour. So then they shifted from that base and moved up to the Lincoln Project in Lexington and they then put down at the strength, they finally took it up to over 200 miles an hour winds, and the apparatus again broke. They never did they never brought that dome to destruction, and unless you brought it to a point of failure, you would not really with the electric strain gauge readings, really know how to turn this into a formula, so they never did get a structural formula, I assure you.
The only people who did get some formulas were the Japanese. This was a very, very lovely beautiful dome. And all of the students, my associates who were involved in it, had a lot of pleasure with it.
Next picture. That was that dome at night.
Next picture. And that’s one of those domes then delivered to one of the sites. You can see them all around the world in this kind of a mounting. This was at Whippany New Jersey, at the Bell Laboratories.
Next picture. This is one of the domes being this is my, one of my earliest domes being mounted on the roof of the Lincoln Laboratories, going up to be put on one of the Radomes.
Next picture. You saw this yesterday. This is at Thule in the northern end of Greenland.
Next picture. This is then getting into the plywood domes. And the plywood was very exciting, because I found it is possible to take absolutely flat sheets and they will you can make a sphere out of flat sheets. It doesn’t sound logical, but you can. Again, remember this bending. You can take any two triangles and bend between them. I’d like you to take a postcard, if you take a postcard you can imagine this with me, take a postcard and it is a little longer than it is narrow, somebody give me a sheet of paper just a quadrangular sheet of paper? (Someone in the audience had a postcard) You’ve got a postcard? Oh, this is much better. Very good. Now I can bend it like that, can’t I? Obviously I can do that, there is a bend. Now, I can also put a bend on that corner, making that into a triangle, and make a bend in this corner, making it into a triangle. Then I can bend this corner here, making it into a triangle. And then I can go from here to here and make this into a triangle. Now I’ve got one of the diamonds of a geodesic where there are two triangles side by side with a common ridgepole. In other words, I find that a quadrangle can receive five bends. Out of our six vectors, five can be bent in. And this, then, obviously can take any two triangles on my dome, and this overlaps into the next one, so if you know your mathematics carefully then you know what the whole pattern would be to be bolted onto the next units. So, that is the way, come back then to the plywood dome
There it is, and because as you get it out pretty flat, they look almost like flat pieces I very much emphasize this, you can understand that. So that these are you can see this is getting into a high frequency. These are all out in Des Moines, Iowa, these pictures can my body be removed? This was an extraordinary beautiful, beautiful plywood dome.
Next picture. Now those can get very high frequency and get relatively thin. And this is using the same principles, but developing a shingling orientation of the triangles. And this one is at Cornell where I then had, each one of these shingles, inside you can look out, but there is a little air so, we call this a pine cone dome and it is on the campus at Cornell. Remove my figure in front of there because I would really like you getting a feeling of it.
I found this a particularly nice kind of a dome. The aeronautical properties were great, the water shedding properties were excellent. Next picture. This is, then, getting into what is called the “Pease Dome”, manufactured in Ohio.
Next picture. Where you get the standard pattern. Many of you are familiar with Pease Domes by now.
Next picture. This is the, a dome going into an Air Force into a plane. This is one going to Kabul, Afghanistan.
Next picture. This dome we were asked, Kabul, Afghanistan, 1954. If you will look at your world map then you will find Afghanistan to the east of Iran, Iraq, north of India and touching on Russia on its north side and China on this way. So China, Russia, it contains the Khyber pass. I spoke to you about there being main routes from the Orient to Europe. There was the Marco Polo one which went by the sea [lake] of Baikal and the Sea of Azof and the Black and so forth, coming in through the Bosporus into the Adriatic. But then just south of that, coming over the desert, Sinkiang and so forth was the one that came thru the Khyber pass and thru, then, Afghanistan.
Afghanistan couldn’t be a more strategic position in relation to the great pressures of Russia, China, and the enormous numbers of people in India. And the, in the British Empire, that I spoke about, rather, the great East India Company monopoly of the oceans, they wanted to be sure there would never be any overland competition. And Sinkiang Pass, the Khyber pass, is one of the real challenges to the water route. And so the English master they mastered Afghanistan, kept it as a block they blocked the overland traffic to be sure their water traffic would work. It was, this kind of thing became so obsolete in the terms of the air age, that in 1954, the British, who had been more or less, this is one of the things they had not pulled out of with their sovereignty, still had an Ambassador there in Afghanistan, and he was supposed to be looking out for their interest and be sure that there were no this is an obsolete thing, no longer do you have to stop that over the pass route but the Ambassador was there, it was a poor post and he was a drunk.
And it suddenly turned out in the strategic information that the Russians were very much courting Afghanistan and were about to take Afghanistan over. The Afghans have an annual, every-other-year, the Jessian Fair which is of very great importance, and the people come in for this fair. And it was discovered that the Russians were putting in an enormous pavilion and the Chinese were putting in a big pavilion and everybody all the Communist countries were coming in there, and the western world was putting in nothing. And it looked like this strategic state would no longer stay a neutral middle state would go Communist.
The Americans were suddenly appraised of this and they needed very badly to have some kind of an exhibition, but there was only one month to go 30 days to go. The United States got in touch with us, and asked if we could produce a geodesic dome. They only wanted the geodesic dome, however, to house their show. Their show, they had gotten up a big show already the show of the Borden talking cow and the bouncing ball bearings and the Lionel Trains and so forth. It was rather a poor bunch of junk, but at any rate, they needed an enclosure for it, and they didn’t have anytime to build a building, so they asked if we could produce the dome and deliver it and erect it in Afghanistan in 30 days. We did produce it, and we produced it in I made the State Department, the government officer come down, we erected it at the airport at Raleigh to be sure they wouldn’t say after they got there that they didn’t know how to put it up and they wouldn’t pay us, so I found you have to be pretty tough with our government now days. And so it did work. And so we erected it. The picture you just saw they were putting it into the airplane. It had to go in one DC-3 DC-4, it had to have one of our engineers go with it and that was all.
And so, if did get to Afghanistan and it did go up in 48 hours, it would have gone up in 24 except that there was a holiday.
May I have the picture back again because I would like to talk about it a little more. And as the dome, then, was put up, the men the Afghans all worked on it, putting it together, just led by the American engineer. May I have that picture back again of the dome. No well, this’ll be fine. The men putting it up, we simply had color coding the red end went to the red part on the hub and the green end to the green part and so forth, so red to red, green to green, just so. And the Afghans put it together. They didn’t know whether they were putting up a quadrangular rectilinear, they didn’t know what they were doing, just putting it together, put the ends together, and suddenly there was this big dome, so all of the Afghans were parading around, they said to the Afghans putting it up, “You’re pretty good dome builders, aren’t you?” So the workmen had been up to this time it was assumed that the way the thing goes together is the way the workmen are putting it together. In that country, and so forth, whether you can do things with wood or the craftsman is responsible for the shape. Maybe someone has designed it for him, so he has to make it that shape. At any rate, it was assumed then that the Afghans that were putting it up were apparently great dome builders, so they felt very proud about it, and they began to call it “Afghan Architecture.” It was simply a big yurt a very large yurt obviously, straight Afghan. So the King of Afghanistan became very excited about it, and he was down there driving around. Meanwhile, the workers, then had found out that they had got the skin on it that you could jump up and down on the skin. All they had to do at the top was jump on the skin and lay like this and they would slide all the way down beautifully going under the bars, so they were all cascading down all over it. And the King felt they were defiling his Afghan architecture, so he ordered them to stop doing that. Well the King wanted it to be given to him. It was really a very, very great hit. And it actually, completely, stymied the efforts of the others. In fact the Russians, then, asked if they could come over and measure drawings, and they came over then and made moving pictures of the whole operation, very, very carefully.
And, this particular dome went on then, was taken apart. The King of Afghanistan wanted it. I think America made an extraordinary error in not giving it to him, because very shortly the Russians gave him a jet plane and he felt great about that. And the Russians wanted to build a highway in, so the Russians put down a mile strip of asphalt road they had never had anything like that there before, particularly the civilians. This was going to be an extension. I think the Americans did not parry the Russians very well. They should have given him that dome.
At any rate, the dome was taken apart and went from there to Ceylon and then came back to New Delhi. It went from there to Burma. It went from Burma to Bangkok. It went to Fair after Fair. And from there it went to Japan, was put up in Tokyo, and the Emperor came to see it. This then went to Peru. This dome has been around the world. My last check up on it, it has been around twice completely, and it was up in Alaska at the time they had an earthquake, and it was one of the buildings that was in very good shape, it was not at all bothered by that.
Next picture please. This is that same dome.
Next picture. No, this is in Tokyo that’s where. No that was the same dome in Osaka. This is a dome in Italy for the Triennale in Milan, and won their grand premio. Another one of the paperboard domes in 1954 also went to Milan and won the grand premio at the Design Fair.
Next picture. This is that dome you were just looking at before in Milan.
Next picture. This is in South Africa with the students at the put together by students of the three universities the one at Durban, and the students from Capetown, and from the where the Raderstrand in the these three students’ projects, what we did, what I wanted to do, I talked to you about the African tribes. These African tribes had never been slaves. The blacks came in from the north about the same time that the English were coming in from the east coast and the Dutch were coming in from Capetown going north to settle. And the blacks went into areas that were of no interest to the English looking for metals for the industry, nor to the they were not interested in places where the good farming that the Dutch were looking for. They loved the very deep valleys and prominent promontories in the valleys for their corrals. But I had talked to you about their using their cows for money. And they were getting so prosperous that their cows were eating up all their thatching grass, and they lived in domes of thatching grass. And there was really a great deal of problem about thatching grass, so, an aluminum factory had just been opened up in a place, Pietermaritzburg pretty close to Durban, and so I found I could get corrugated aluminum. And I developed, then, a dome which those are the corrals I was talking about, the thatching grass, superbly, beautifully designed.
Next picture. There are all kinds of ways in which they are woven. At any rate, I developed this dome with the corrugated aluminum sheets and there you simply are using this pattern here that you are getting familiar with. And we had lovely little hoods coming out, eyebrows and there were windows of a stretched polyethylene sheet below them. This dome was very well engineered, and the students from all those Universities at great distances in South Africa, one from the other, came to put this up finally on the Durban campus. And the night they put it up, the number of the students inside, we finished at about 2:00 in the morning, they were going to spend the rest of the night there sleeping under it. I used the same kind of floor, incidentally, that I told you about, that I used for the Butler Grain Bin and that worked very nicely. This was a fantastically economical building, I assure you, this aluminum one, and it did not need to be painted.
The boys, then, were sleeping in there, and early in the morning, about 4:00, the workman the boys the help at the University started coming to work, and they came on this 3 or 4 of my students could speak Zulu, they were all Zulu boys on the campus, and as they came to this, they said, “This is the way houses homes should be built.” They were terribly enthusiastic about it. It was the most beautiful test we could possibly have. Absolutely accidental that it occurred. Because they didn’t know the kids were sleeping inside, they were just standing outside looking this thing over, walking around, talking about it. It was absolutely ideal to them.
Incidentally in getting to Naga and strange things that happened. And it was the Zulus who have they also have the long split ears, and they wear these discs that are quite clearly the compass the cardinal points of the compass that they wear in their ears. The name for their domical thatched hut is an Indhlu I N D H L U, Indhlu. Incidentally, the Zulus and the Swazis speak what they call the “clicks.” They speak, you as a child recall trying out (here Bucky makes some noises that are unspellable, but kind of like oonnkk, awwaak, clickclickclick, etc. only a little kid and Bucky can do it right) all the noises you could make, and they use them all. And they are very, very musical you see “oooomla, ooomclk, ooomclk” it’s a very pretty word. And at any rate, the kids knew their language and they were really saying this.
Now, the word Indhlu was then spelled out after the British came in with Phonetic spelling, but this is the longtime word, and it sounds so close to igloo indhlu and igloo, that you really have to do a little thinking about it. How did this kind of word get around? Also we do find, these are the water people. These are water people who came up in the Indian Ocean. And we have some of those very same people. There are these dark-skinned people up in the, between, on the very head of Baffins Islands there (up near the Arctic circle). I’m sure these are all the same people, the same water people.
Next picture. This is at Hawaii. One of my boys at the Institute of Design in Chicago was Don Richter. Don was an extraordinary man and he stayed with me during all the early years of the developing of the geodesic dome, after he graduated from the Institute of Design. He had been a sailor in the Merchant Marine during the war. Please hold the pictures for a minute. Don’t do anymore with them for a second. And Don wanted to really go on. Many architectural students asked me what they ought to do, and I would say, what I think you ought to do is to get production engineering. And the only way you can do that, to really get it first class, would be in the aircraft industry. Don did work for a while with Kaiser Aluminum and he then got a job in Texas with the Republic Aircraft. They were building an enormous bomber and he began he did so well in general engineering that he did get into production engineering, and he lived with the Head of the Production Engineering and developed extraordinary capability.
Don, then, Kaiser Aluminum Company were looking for somebody with design capability and I recommended Don and he went to them, and Don had made his small geodesic dome of aluminum and had it on his desk. He made it at home, and brought it in one day and put it on his desk, and Henry Kaiser, old Henry Kaiser walked by the desk and he thought this was a Kaiser product and he simply said, “I’d like to have one of those built for Hawaii,” and he had just been building a big hotel out there, and so everybody just takes Henry’s orders and so they had to make deals with Don, and there was a great deal of negotiating from there on`. The Kaiser patent attorneys came in to get license from my patent attorney.
At any rate, they did produce this dome and they sent it out to Hawaii and they had a hydraulic mast, and this thing went up very beautiful erecting of it. And they decided to have continuous crews work 24 hours to put it up, to see how fast they could put it together. Because it was very spectacular right along side the great hotel, and at the about somewhere in the 15th or 16th hour, it was quite clear that the dome was going to be finished very shortly. So the public relations man talked to the superintendents, got on the air, and he broadcast to no, first he got in touch with the conductor of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and asked him if he would be willing to get his Orchestra together in a great hurry to come over and have a concert. And then he got on the radio and announced that on the 20th hour after starting to put this together, they were going to have a symphony concert and they did.
Next picture please. This really just went up like a dream.
Next picture. Keep right on with the pictures. Finally this thing is up.
Next picture. I think there is a picture with the people inside. I hope it’s coming up. At any rate, they got 1800 people inside for the concert. There they are. The Kaiser Company assumed that an all sheet metal dome was going to be very tin canny and acoustically abominable, so they got in touch with Newman of MIT who was the great acoustical expert there, and they asked him to come out to then give acoustical treatment, then. They thought the dome was going to be fine, but they would like to have it properly organized for sound. And so Bob Newman did come out. He was there. When the symphony orchestra finished, the Conductor said that those were the best acoustical conditions he ever conducted under. And everybody was astonished. And Bob Newman agreed and he said “There is nothing for me to do,” and he went away.
This was really, I tell you the reason is there are hexagonal domes inside, the three see diamond forms, three diamonds forms went together to make a sort of hexagon dome, so they are local domes, and these local domes don’t let the sound just go round but pool it and they reflect little nodes of sound out evenly all around, and this comes to you wherever you are really very, very evenly. All secondary reverberation and everything goes. I’ve spoken in this dome on several occasions since, and it is really acoustically, quite extraordinary. They have had all kinds of rock concerts out there some of the very best rock conductors conducting today, and it always turns out well.
Next picture. Same dome.
Next picture. Same dome.
This one now, we’re getting to Russia.
Next picture. This is the Sokol’Niki park in Moscow.
Next picture. This I’m standing in Sokol’Niki park with the dome behind.
Next picture. I think there’s one of Khrushchev when they were dedicating this dome. When that dome was going up in Sokol’Niki park Khrushchev went over, he was the Premier then, and he went over to watch it going up. He is in this picture, and I’m sorry to say, the picture is chopped he was giving a speech here, this is the opening of the dome, he would be up on the left, the cameras are looking this way. And he said to the New York Times that this was “Some American inventions are very good inventions, this was a very good American invention.” The Russians never said to me that they called it Russian at all, they really do credit it very much to me. And, at any rate, he said he’d like to have me come over to speak to his engineers, and this was all in the NEW YORK TIMES. As it happened this was the American and Russian protocol exchange of 1959, and the Russians put on a big exhibit in New York at Columbus, what is the name of the big building they had it in there? It is a big exhibition building in New York City? And the Americans put on this exhibition in Moscow in Sokol’Niki park.
The, I was invited by the government to go to Russia to represent engineering in the protocol exchange, this was before Khrushchev asked me to go, but at any rate I was going anyway. So when I did get there I was very warmly greeted by the Russians, and they had several meetings with engineers in town, in Moscow, but also then the architects gave a dinner for me out in the, what was the Prince Bolkowski or Wolkowski Estate. The Bolkowski or Wolkowski estate whichever way you say it was a place where in WAR AND PEACE if any of you remember, the moving picture of that, where all the young Russian Nobles met preparing themselves for the Napoleonic invasion. It’s a very, very beautiful place. This is the rest palace of the architects, so this is still kept in very, very beautiful shape. And they had the dinner for me down there in the great oval dining room at the Prince Bolkanski estate, and they had a number of high functionaries of Russia present. One was the head of their planning department which is is very highest of activities in Russia. And the during that dinner I heard something very interesting. In the first place I’ve told Sonny Applewhite, about 1929 the Russians were asking no, 1929, it was the year that I started, went up to Bridgeport to build the car ’33, I was asked to meet with a Russian in New York City by the Amtall trading company who represented them in business. And this Russian told me that the Russians were very aware of my Dymaxion House, but they said that with the five-year plannings there were all the first things first, and you’re going to have to have all your steel mills, and you’re going to have to have all kinds of things, and the people were in surplus, and wood was in surplus, and they said if you’ll the Dymaxion House just words and pictures were to be published in Russia, it would appeal very much to their sense of efficiency, and it would be desirable, but they would not be able to get people there would be no aluminum available for the housing at that time, so that it would be completely disrupting. Then because people were in surplus and wood was in surplus they were going to have to be housed in wood in a very major way for a very long time. And they said, this engineer said, we just want you to know that we think well of your Dymaxion House but it will not see light of day for half a century.
At any rate, it was interesting, at the dinner at the… estate the Head of the Russian Planning Commission said “We’ve been following your work since 1929,” which would coincide with that information I just had there, and they said, “We think very well of it,” and they said very complementary things about it. So I said to the Russians, I would imagine that you assume that because I am here with protocol that my dome is being used, that I represent either the Russian the United States government or some big corporation in America. I said, I don’t. I’m a complete individual, operating entirely on my own initiative, and I said, I think this has some real significance.
It was right at that time that there was a great deal of talk about the cult of individualism was getting to be very undesirable and so forth. And I told them about the case of Walter Chrysler making clear that I was able to get results that the big corporation couldn’t get. I also told them about the Marine Corps domes where the Marine Corps finally made a very great report very long book we have over at the office where they show that I was able to get results that the Marine Corps the great corporations could not get, and got it with my own money with 30 students in University and $1,500 of my own time, I was getting results that big corporations couldn’t get with $250,000 contracts in two years. And they said this was the first break thru in mobile structures in 2600 years that’s in the Marine Corps report. And I said that both of these things to the Russians because I said this does demonstrate something the individual can do.
And during W.W.II I said, the beginning of it, I did get a hold of their priorities were set up, very, very strict priorities on really advanced weaponry, and I said I was able to wangle pieces of materials that I needed that were on high priority for my own research work, and I said, if in Russia you had set up priorities and the High Command had said, “This is this” What would have happened to me in Russia, if I had on my own initiative, then, thought it would be appropriate and worthwhile to society if I got a hold of some of these strategic materials. So everybody just laughed. Obviously the answer was obvious. But it was a very interesting occasion for me to really confront the Russians with what individuals can do, because they were full of admiration about this.
They have used the dome and they said they were going to use the geodesics a very great deal, and I’m quite confident they have. I’ve not been able to follow through on all of it, but once in a while I get one where they used it for the Communist Party Annual Congress in one year. And,
Next pictures please. This is the big dome at this is the one at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This is the largest of the geodesic domes that I had a contract to build. This is for the Union Tankcar Company at Baton Rouge. It is 384 feet in diameter. It is big it’s a big dome, it will take in a full American football field and end zones. And there is another one like that at Wood River, Illinois, quite near Southern Illinois University. There are two of those.
Next picture please. This was made out of scrap metal. They took scrap from their tank car building and so forth. They had to have a big the cleaning of tank cars is a renting of tank car business, and they, so many kinds of acids, and oils and things get foods get put into tank cars. You have to have ways of cleaning them out in order to rent a clean container. And so that this was an operation where they did that, and they used to be done linearly, and they couldn’t get really a car out of the way of another, so slow ones under repair held up the fast ones. So under this dome they had a great turntable and they were able to bring them in and put them up in their own alcove, so that the turntable could pick them up at the right it got to be quite an extraordinary operation.
But this was then they had put together from scrap sheet from their other work, and the pieces literally were welded together, so it was really a very thin, very thin structure.
Next picture. Thin shelled structure. It was plate, but the lightest plate that you have.
Next picture. It was a very lovely dome. This is the dome at, in Ohio. This is the dome for the American Society of Metals.
Next picture. This is the dome going up. It is not skinned. It is just an open framework, but it was an extremely beautiful one, as fairly near Cleveland, from Cleveland.
Next picture please. Very delicate truss.
Next picture. These are going to go on for quite a while. I think it would be a good idea it is now nine o’clock. We waited later than we usually have a real break, so we’ll have a coffee break and get going as soon as we can again. Thank you.
I want you to recall as we look at the geodesic domes the intimacy of that design to the SYNERGETICS, going back to a system dividing the Universe inside and out. A structural system. Getting to the three possible structural systems tetrahedron, octahedron and icosahedron. Remembering the icosahedron gave us the most volume with the least energy quanta, so that then I found that after we get then to the icosahedron then we want to get further subdivision of the surface, and we get into the multi-frequencies. And remember what the frequencies were then. They were the radial and circumferal, where the, what I said the angular and linear accelerations of physics are all in the same language. So the domes you have been looking at like that in Baton Rouge or Wood River, we are getting up there to very high frequencies 36 frequency, so they are beginning to look really very beautiful, and they look rather intricate. But the mathematics and trigonometry are just the same trigonometry that I gave you for how you find out about any of those spherical triangles.
I hope the interrelatedness here is clear and the grand strategy of the little individual wanting to what can he do for human beings, and then finding the environmental control or something he could work on, that this is what in the military they’d use big heavy fortresses, but in ships of the sea they did have the do the most with the least, so these are containers, environment controls, and I saw that this was the direction that none of the science and technology that is patronized for the war ever went in the direction of the building on the land, so we simply have hold overs of castles and that kind of technique.
The we are now going to come to the Expo Dome in Montreal. And this was a very interesting project to have occur. If my head moves a little you can see it on the little island over there the sphere, and incidentally it is still there, and it is really quite prominent as you fly into Montreal it is a major city feature, and this was, then, the Pavilion for the United States World Fair. This came about when the first place U.S.I.A. who handles then the Fairs and other Expositions for the Government they asked me if I would work out what the exhibit should be at the World Fair in Montreal, and I then developed the idea of this being WORLD GAME. And I wrote a great deal about the WORLD GAME and made clear that whole idea, and which you are now familiar with, and that is part of my planning. All of the things that I have been doing here with you, everything that I have been going over with you about my DESIGN SCIENCE exercises within the WORLD GAME in relation to the GRAND RESOURCE INVENTORY and Grand task to be done ALWAYS FOR ALL HUMANITY, NOT FOR ANY SPECIAL COUNTRY OR SPECIAL PERSON. And so that I felt the World’s Fair would very greatly care for the United States showing what could be done by Design, so it might really, I felt that it was the same strategic moment it is now, but I said if the United States could really get playing, all the people there could really go and see what is good for the World, and not just good for the United States, a World’s Fair would be a great place to do it.
There were people who did like the idea in the government, but anywhere far from the majority, so they tabooed that but then they just wanted my building so we did have the building. So what went inside were other kinds of exhibits. And the there were very many interesting things about this dome, I might as well mention a few of them.
It was designed to be put up in the fall, but the general contracts of the fair were behind so it didn’t actually get erected until in February, which is a very tough time to have it going up. It was put together by a tribe of American Indians who were great high skyscraper experts. You know they do this work. But it was very cold work up on the outside there in February. So much so that there was a great deal of ice and snow that formed as they were putting on the enclosure the skin of it, and so when the Spring came a lot of the ice and snow melted, and there were leaks in the building, which I am sorry to say they never did have a chance to clean up very well before the Fair was open. They did a certain amount of repairing but they didn’t want a lot of people working up there when the Fair was open. The dome is this is made with octahedra, and the octahedra coming I think you would be interested in getting this pattern looking at an octahedron from above, as you know we can see this way (Bucky is drawing at the board now).
Now, I can change it, I can have an irregular octahedron where these points instead of being outside there, they could even be inside. Here is the second triangle, in back there, and it could connect to here. Can you see that. Simply the triangle on the far side of the octahedron is a small triangle, and this triangle on the far side is connected to the triangle up towards you here by six connectors. So we have the same six connectors but they’re a small triangle here. I could also make this arbitrarily so these points here are congruent with the midpoint and you wouldn’t see it all you’d see would be that.
Now, if you we can have, this quite clearly would be one frequency higher than the big triangle. So on our dome we had two frequencies and there was then this inner and an outer triangulation, and these octahedra then are brought together face to face right here, so the next one is in here, and they, then, produce a pattern of as they come together of hexagons and pentagons, and so the dome is we have eight foot diameter hemispheres that came into these areas. They were made out of Plexiglas, so the whole dome, the whole big dome was lined with these little domes of eight-feet diameter and the acoustics were extraordinary, because they then, there is something like this in St. Peter’s dome, you see, there are little octahedronal domes that act give very good acoustics, because it makes local nodes of sound rather than letting it climb around, and this acted extraordinarily well at the Montreal dome. So the acoustics inside there there would average 5,000 people in there at a time, an enormous crowd, talking all over the place, and anyplace you were, you just didn’t hear the other voices, you talked to the local person and it was extraordinarily beautiful acoustics.
The, it was made out of, there are a number of things I would like to tell you about, because of typical short-sightedness in government and so forth, I designed the dome in aluminum because steel, you’re either going to have to ferro-enamel it or someway to make it permanent, and even plating is not very permanent. So I designed it in aluminum so it would not have to be painted. Furthermore it would be easier work putting it up. And I designed it with very great accuracy so that all interchangeable parts. The bidding on it went to the Bliss Manufacturing, an enormous manufacturing company in Portland, Maine. They stamped out all the parts. And as I say, to be completely interchangeable.
The general contractor of the job persuaded all people interested in making money persuaded the United States Information Agency Purchasing Agent to let him alter the specifications where he was allowed to weld the pieces together, if it was steel it was very easy to do. He was going to have to put bolts in, so the U.S.I.A. man let him do this. He made, I think, something like $250,000 more on this job by doing this welding, but you never could take it apart, and once it had been welded together, if you ever tried it, you couldn’t cut it apart into interchangeable parts, it was absolutely impossible. Well, when the Fair was over, there were three bids to buy the dome at more than it cost the United States by considerable. But they couldn’t sell it because it couldn’t be taken apart. So they sold it to the City of Montreal for a dollar. The government really lost about $4 million. Our dome part cost, we did it it was a very, very good figure, a little under just a little under $2 million. The budget was very much more, so we actually came in well under the budget, but I’m sorry to say, doing it with steel, it’s going to have to be painted in due course again. It was painted, well painted when put up, but all those things are going to happen to it. Montreal now considers it a permanent Montreal building, and they like it very much, and they call it the biosphere. And they do things that have to do with their biology and ecology in it. You can see those hexes that receive the domes, edge to edge, they’re quite handsome. Now,
Next picture. This is when it’s going up.
Next picture. It was very extraordinary standing inside. How many of you, put your hands up, any of you who got up to that Fair. Because from inside you really looked out over the whole Fair and really over all of Montreal, and you really were very intimate with the world around you. And, now you can feel the honeycomb of those domes, those eight-foot diameter big eight foot diameter hemispheres. My map hung up the exhibit of one of the painters.
I don’t really care about too much more of this. The dome, I did get into the logistics of it, and I have not memorized them well enough to give you too much, but I did measure up Seville Cathedral which is a beautiful cathedral, and I found that the my Seville Cathedral goes way down inside this dome, it was just swallowed up in it, but the weight of the dome was not much more than one of the just the columns of Seville Cathedral, when you’re inside there are a forest of columns you get a little idea of how much more with how much less you can really do.
Now, I’ll go from this Expo Dome, we’re going down to the Antarctic. I did have one dome built at Wilkes Land quite a few years ago. Around in the ’56. And there is at the exact South Pole, a lake a mile deep, and the International Geophysical Year became very fascinated with this thing and the probability of finding a great deal in borings going down a mile deep, about what went on in that continent long, long ago. So that it would have been very desirable to make borings, but they hadn’t been able to operate on account of the ways in which the snows drift. They really do get 180 mile an hour winds there, and it is very dry, with the snow just going around. It piles up on anything.
This is a dome that has been, now, put up down there, and this was done by my friend Don Richter, the boy who now heads the Temcor Company, and made a very large number of these domes.
Next picture. Keep right on with it. The winchings of it. This is made out of stainless steel and aluminum. Arctic snow loads are 60 pounds to the square foot on buildings, and this is designed for 300 pounds to the square foot, so that it can be buried and buried very deeply and still carry all the pressures that are going to occur. Whether it really will bury the way they think it will, I don’t know, because I find that the domical structures behave so differently from flat-sided rectilinear buildings about piling up snows. But they make the assumption that it is going to be buried deeply. It is a good sized dome. It is not as large in diameter as Expo, but it is a good big dome, and there are three separate buildings below which are moved around from time to time, and people as I told you live inside the buildings. They heat the buildings, but they don’t try to heat the big dome. This just gets the waste heat from inside the small buildings to keep the bigger atmosphere mild. The, incidentally, with the flag on the top, like the flag on the moon.
I have now last year I gave seven commencement addresses, and I’ve been on the platform receiving honorary doctorates and so forth and giving commencement addresses for quite a few years, in June, and looking at the graduating class, it’s very moving to see these beautiful young people. And every time in America comes the Star Spangled Banner, and I see all those faces of those kids, and really watch them, and some of them get up and sing the Star Spangled Banner very vigorously, and others don’t sing at all but there is consternation. Here is a young world who has family there, and they like the University, you know, but suddenly something this does not feel right. “Bombs bursting in air” just the very words. And they are at a point where they have been identifying seeing American flags, seeing them on the post office, but seeing them on the factories, and that’s all they are. And they find the factories are making a lot of money in Vietnam, they have developed really a very bad association. No question how I felt about that American flag when I was a kid and was first in the Navy and having colors I can’t tell you how moved I was at its beauty. And I gradually began to see and I didn’t know we were going to have a world where we could all get together and so forth, but now it’s absolutely clear we are, and those young people were as I said to you, born aware of all humanity and they are compassionate for all humanity, and there has to be enough for everybody, so I really feel quite sad at this institution, and I can understand how all the officers of the University, everybody, it’s official business and you’ve got to do it that way, and I hope something gets done about that for our universities I do not think it is a fair thing on this really quite extraordinary day, I’ve just seen such pain of decision on parts of kids about, “I love my people, I love friends what should I do? I want to have integrity, and it just doesn’t feel right.” I think it’s terribly important for us to be able to talk about things like this and have it out and clear, why things are the way they are. And this is not subversive, it is just like, go back to Milton, where I was born and so forth, just true to Milton and then there has to get to be a time when something a little bigger than Ward ate Boston. And it finally gets to the states are subservient to something bigger, and now it’s really getting to be everybody together, and the flags were very, very cheery. They had enormous psychological effect as poor human beings were being led into battle, and charging and probably going horrible things going on that you are facing. And at least it was something that had to do with my family, all our families. But that doesn’t work that way anymore psychologically. I think it would be time for us to talk about in a way that does not seem to be thoughtless and unfriendly to people who have conditioned reflexes, that would like to have it and so forth. But understanding must be established about things in a truly, in whatever the truth may be.
Next picture. This, I’m looking at the Triton City, we call it. The floating city. I received a contract from the I was interested in tetrahedra as because they have the least volume with the most surface, so that they have the most surface. Therefore they become extremely good if you wanted to have outside rooms or outside decks, and it was quite clear that you could really have floating cities that are the Queen Mary is a floating city, but the Queen Mary you are also trying to cross the ocean, and you want to drive at 28 knots through the sea so it has a very special shape and the special shaping then compromises the way in which you can have your city really arranged. So, if you had a floating city that isn’t going anywhere, I saw long ago, it could really be a very favorable way for human beings to carry on because you’d be right where you could desalinate your water, do all the things you do on any ship. And you could then, also have with plenty of water, get into all kinds of chemistries dealing with the wastes.
At any rate, I did receive a contract from the United States Housing Authority to produce this I said I received the contract, but the Government can’t give an individual anything anymore. The United States Government can only deal with corporations, the individual is supposed to be immoral, so I had to have a I developed a profit-free foundation, the Triton Foundation, to receive the order to produce the model. And we did produce this structure that you’re looking at and we did design it at Cambridge, and with MIT Naval Architecture Department checking us all the way through we then developed its floatability and made it a true ship and then the priced it out very carefully, and we then made a model a beautiful model. And this model you are looking at, if any of you get to Texas to the Lyndon Johnson Library this is in the foyer of the Library as you come in, it is the main sort of object of art if you want to call it this model. Look at it, because Mrs. Johnson, and apparently the President liked it very much.
Let me have the picture of the whole of that model rather than just a part. Here we are looking at it from the air. There are two of them floating with a little break water, and they are, then installable there are three of them floating there, and they are installable close to the land, and have gangways over to them. These came out extraordinarily favorable. Up on the top where they have been truncated, we had tennis courts and various kinds of things going on in there, and there are stores. These are for 5,000 people each. They are the government liked them the housing authority, so they sent the drawings over the complete drawings and cost estimates and so forth to the Secretary of the Navy and they had the Secretary of the Navy, he sent it to the Bureau of Ships where they checked it completely for its marine stability and all that everything was valid there. Then the Navy Secretary sent it to his Bureau of Yards and Docks where they priced it at producing it in a shipyard. And the costs came out within 10% of our costs, so that the Housing and Urban Development said they’d never had anything else check out quite so close. The cost it did come out at, indicated we could have, it could be occupied by the next income group, exactly above poverty almost poverty level. Very, very low cost. You don’t have any ground rent. Right away this thing . This one almost got going, and the City of Baltimore was going to produce one have one, and this is when the Republican Government came in and then the Democratic undertakings were quashed, but the model, itself, did appear then out at the Lyndon Johnson museum.
I think we’ll see this one come in one of these days. It did come out very attractively. This can be built to very great size, and there can be protected water ones, or out in the great ocean ones. The deep ocean ones you would have submerged floatation great columns going down through the turbulence, where the flotation will be below the turbulence. You only go you don’t have to go down very deeply to be below the turbulence, so there would be just like bridge pylons so the structure itself won’t be up and downing the way the rest of the ocean is, and the sea will go simply washing through these legs below like a big high bridge.
One of these things are fascinating historically I talked to you a lot about ships and the water-ocean world. They never could, then, change cargoes at sea. You have to get to harbors, but now with the submarine, enormous submarine programs of the United States and Russia and so forth, this art is very far advanced, so unquestionably we will have submarine cargo, and the submarine cargoes with a floating city, when you are down below the turbulence, they can come and dock and you can exchange goods, so it looks as though we could have really goods into exchange all over the open ocean, and this ocean could be very excellent because they could really be ports of refuge for ocean sailing at strategic distances, so that it might be engaged in by much more of humanity by having such places islands. I expect to see really a whole lot of floating islands around our planet one of these days.
This also brings me into one other kind of a project that I found that they didn’t have any of the slides here, so I’m just going to tell you about it. That is the very much larger, that is the, for almost a million people in San Francisco harbor, what looked like that capacity, just to give you a sense of scale.
What I am going to talk to you about is the Sky Project. I would like you to think about the weight of air. A hundred foot diameter geodesic sphere is quite small. The Expo Dome was 250 feet in diameter, so a 100 foot sphere. Would you make quickly, any one of you, but really do it quickly, a guess how much the weight of the air inside a 100 foot geodesic sphere would be. Really throw it out quickly. Seem like a lot or a little. Don’t get pondering too I’d like your reflexing. (Someone from the audience said, “A lot”) Anybody else say, a little? Because my tendency is to say a little, but at any rate. The weight is 7 tons inside of 100 footer. Now, when I double the size of a geodesic dome, I do it with struts and not with a complete surface, so it is not a matter of being 4 times as much surface, but there is 8 times as much volume, so I find then the sphere that encloses the 7 tons of air weighs just about 7 tons too, so the air and the dome are just about the same. But when I double the size of it then, we are going to go up to a 200 footer. The volume of the weight of the air inside will be 8 times or 56 tons, but the weight of the dome is not even twice, so that I get to the bigger and bigger the dome the lower the ratio of the weight of the enclosure to the air enclosed. I find that if we get up to a half miler, we get to where if it were just aluminum tubing dome, and aluminum tubing, then, reflects sunlight, and there is a concave inside and the sun can come in alright, so the concave inside reflecting the sun radiation on the tubes, enough of the radiation gets reflected to go into heat the atmosphere inside of the sphere to some extent, which accelerates the molecules a little, so they simply push out, they go out through the holes, through the sieve because it is just an open framework. I found, then at a half miler, temperature differential of only l degree Fahrenheit will push out enough air to weigh more than the weight of the structure itself, so that the atmosphere inside plus the structure now weighs less than the air around it, outside. Therefore, like all such things it has to float. It starts rising. Now this is exactly what happens to mist in a valley in the morning when the sun is shining on it. The heat of the sun pushes air out of the cloud and it finally comes light enough to float in the sky, so I found that this is exactly what would happen as you get to half miler. When we get up to a two mile diameter, the amount of air that has been put out is so much that you could have 5,000 people inside and it still would float right in the sky like any cloud.
Now, we found then that the air pressure differential is really very slight, I’m talking about, this pushing it out. Therefore if you had the outside draped with polyethylene sheet openings like this, so that when you want to get the air out, it just goes out alright, they just sort of waft open and the air goes out, but in night time when the sun is not shining on it, and the air might try to come in, some could come in like that but the pressure differential is so much that you don’t have to fasten it down at all, it just would block it flowing in, so it would keep floating at night alright too.
It came very clear to me, and there were the Piccards, the Piccards were the first great balloon men, and Dr. and Mrs. Piccard both received their Honorary Doctorates at Washington University when I received mine. I got to see them quite a lot, and I went over my figures with them and they said they absolutely agreed with their data. They discovered quite along time ago that if they could you know have a hot air balloon, they found if they had a sphere made out of black cloth, black balloon cloth, and opened it at the bottom, that the heat being absorbed by the sun by the blackness would push the air just go right out under the bottom push it right out. And they found that if they could have it holding its shape, something to hold it out till that got it simply would have to float in the sky, so they saw that I really had a way of holding my shape, and this thing would work.
I want you to realize there are all kinds of possibilities I see, and I also mentioned to you earlier, opening great structures in space where there is no gravity to bother you at all to centrifuge them open and then let them stiffen up, and you saw the flying seedpod, that kind of thing that it is absolutely easy to stiffen up a vast sphere in space and let it come back down into the atmosphere, so that I think much of the building of tomorrow will probably occur in space and be reintroduced into the atmosphere where we get all the advantages of not being bothered by gravity while you do it. The amount of energy to get the things into the sky, but we have to be always thinking of performance per pound, you have to, because I said to you, then trying to look out for human beings in space, well then you have to say, I’ve got an enormous amount of energy to send that out, to accelerate it, to get it out of the gravitational pull, it has to be very compact to be able to do that too, so in all the things we do in space you just are forced to be absolutely economical. You must do the most with the least. So that what we can get out through if I can get enough out through that I know it will do a whole lot with very little, I can get it out then rocketry, then we can let it get into the right shape and come back in it is very, very economical.
I hope you really feel very tightly with me all the interrelationships with SYNERGETICS and the different frequencies, and now the tensegrity, understand how that comes in. All this comes together and comes together very, very tightly. Now I’d like you to look at one more project, and that is we call this the Old Man River Project. Old Man River is the I was asked by the blacks of East St. Louis, there is Katherine Dunham the black dancer, a very wonderful woman. And she was really originally a Haitian and she is, in the years gone by when Martha Graham was in her prime, Katherine herself, was very much in her prime. She is today a research professor at Southern Illinois University, and they have these several campuses, so she is in East St. Louis, and East St. Louis is as near as we have in the United States to Calcutta. It is where for years people have been living in really little paperboard shacks and under rusting corrugated couple of sheets over them. Really huts, and groveling poverty huts. And it is a place that has been taken enormous advantage of because the name is East St. Louis, but it’s really in Illinois and it is so far away from Chicago or Springfield, Illinois or any other really big activity, it is not thought of as Illinois. It belongs to, it has been thought of as part of Missouri, but it isn’t, so that it doesn’t have any protection from Illinois. And when the river traffic in cotton began to stop on the great changes coming from going from north-south Mississippi to an east-west railroading abrupt this way, I’ve given you this going abruptly from east-west now to north-south again, we found then enormous black humanity that came up the river and got pooled in the stranded in the East St. Louis side, and the great companies, before the labor unions really got going at all, just exploited that side over there for manufacturing to an incredible degree. It just was no money and people living there said there is no way you can get out of here. It’s really a trap, except one way through education. And that’s why Southern Illinois University began to be very appealing to them. They are getting educated, and they are doing a lot of good thinking, but it is a very fascinating community.
Anyway, that community found that the government didn’t understand them at all, and the kind of housing they gave just didn’t work, and everything really got worse. And the, they were in such poverty that the state of Illinois condemned it’s sewage system said you can’t have that, and any under those conditions, any other city in America could get matching funds from the government and so forth. The United States Government said they would give matching funds, but no banks would handle any bonds, they wouldn’t touch it. They just stay in an abject mess.
So Katherine Dunham came to me and said “Bucky, I think you’ve been in Africa so much you really understand a whole lot about the feelings of the African, about community and so forth. Could you not design something for us that really would be acceptable to the community, the community would be enthusiastic about? So I said I would think about it, and finally they came at me officially, and I had a meeting with their Mayor and all the people involved, and they asked me if I wouldn’t make such an undertaking, so I said that I would I would take, they were going to have a team to work with me, a designing team and I said design is not really something done with a team, it really is a function of the individual to think, and I really have got so what I’ll do, I’ll, completely at my own expense, it won’t cost you anything because you don’t have anything, but I will just do my own designing of a project for you, and I’ll bring it back to you in about three months, and if you don’t fall in love with it we’ll drop the whole thing. It has to be something that you really like, and you would like to have happen. And it has to be something that will not be a political football which some people like and some people don’t. It has to be really a comprehensive falling in love with, and this is what you want.
So, I did go off then and do my design, and it did come out pretty much that way. And they did want to go ahead further, so I had been carrying all expenses of this, and Washington University Architecture Department, Jim Fitzgibbon who helped me a whole lot, and it was a very fine contribution made by the young people, but, the point is that we had been able to go on in a way that nothing goes on when I am not doing it, but they are waiting for more and more, and they have more and more meetings, and I think something will happen. So what I said to them was: Number one. We are not going to think of anything about any moneys that are available for building anything. All the government moneys of states and the federal government have all been processed into being through enormous lobbies to do with building companies and so forth who will make money out of it , and I’ve got to go exactly the opposite. This must not have anything to do with money anyway, moneys made out of banks make good money out of mortgages it must be designed for people. It must be designed for what really works best for humanity.
So, I said, if I design what really feels good to you, and it really is economical, and then gets to be known that you like it, and it gets to be better and better known for what it really does and the economy of it becomes more and more evident, then there will come a time when there will be an emergency, because everything I have ever done that really does get going always comes in an emergency. So that we will see the time, probably, just about the time we really get it good, we keep reworking at it, and getting it better and better, about the time it is really good, it will be very badly needed, and it will happen. So we gave it the name Old Man River Project because it was beside the Mississippi and that part is evident.
Now, let me tell you about it. The it is to be a one-dome enclosure affair, but, you are familiar with the moon crater what a moon crater looks like, and this would be a moon crater which is a half mile diameter from rim to rim. Do you understand that, from rim to rim, but the slope of the moon crater is a very graceful, gradual slope like this so that the outer most part of the rim as it descends from the half mile crater is one mile in diameter. O.K.?
Now, you’re looking at the dome and you’re seeing the crater below the dome and the edges of that, the top edges are then a half mile across and the base out there, the picture isn’t quite large enough to show the whole picture, is a mile wide. It is all terraced inside and outside. There are fifty terraces fifty terraces high. And the bottom terrace is very wide and as they get higher they get narrower, and when they get narrower, then the living on it goes back deeper into the mountain, so the mountain has thickness do you understand? So they go back about well I’ll get to what the rooms what the families are like and so forth in just a minute. So, they’re all the same terraces on the inside. There are bridges across between the inside and the outside terraces, pretty much like bridges you’d go across as you’re coming into a big stadium and coming up the ramps and go across the bridge coming out suddenly in the stadium. And there are bridges at every four floors. So at any point you can go down two terraces, or up two and you come to a bridge at the worst condition. You might be on the right one for it.
Then there are, inside the crater, it’s a hollow mountain, circular mountain going around here. Inside is sort of a big “A” frame form, this is where all the traffic is, all the circumferential highway that gets you there gets everything to where it is going to go, and there are vertical elevatings and so forth, climb up and down ramps, but all the traffic is out of sight. And so, the biggest part, and this is the thing for the Africans, and what they really did love, the inside of the dome is entirely community life, and as you go up at the top looking down you might see this way your kids are going to school, and you’ll see there are trees all planted around, so this is an enormous great garden. At the very bottom is a large, really very large athletic field and so forth, it is much more several athletic big ones would be there, very much bigger than any of our regular dome things now present bowls or anything like that.
You would then be able to see where there are stores, anything that is going on. There would be tennis courts, hundreds of tennis courts and so forth. Anything that is community life is all visible there. If you’ve ever been you have been in the rose bowl or something like that, and you know seeing the other side people begin to be very tiny, actually, so they are going to be much tinier still. You would have to use glasses to see your kid at the school down there, but the point is, it is all community life. Then you go out the bridge, on the outside all the terraces are where the homes are, and they each one they are all planted with trees, and here is your home, and looking just out through the bottom of the dome is at the height of the top of the crater, so all of them look out underneath the edge of the dome, so you look great off in the distance like being in Berkeley, on the side of Berkeley looking out over San Francisco Bay.
You look out and you don’t see any other home at all. Once you are in your own home, privacy, you extrovert for your privacy and you introvert for public, which is what the Africans really love. I find their crowds so forth, always really feel the community, things in the center of a great circle, and you get on the outside for your privacy, so that they just loved the feel of it. After we got into it then we found that it was something you could build with earth-moving equipment, to build this kind of a mountain. And you first would build then an “A” really a very careful “A” frame like an enormous culvert that went around here, and you could build your earth up, and then your road making things would make your terraces and so forth. It gets to be very economically constructible, and then all the waters on the roof are going to all automatically come to a cistern and there is a great moat, actually, reservoir around the whole show it is very attractive that way.
Now, that is the main scheme, but I’ll tell you the economics of it do look very, very promising. We’re getting now where there is a possibility instead of having the dome go as a complete hat out to the outer rim, we are going to have the roof in the following form (Bucky draws again). Where the we’ll have then a mast up here and it’ll go out like this, like this, but also then in like this, balancing this gives very good engineering, and then we have really quite a small dome in here, this makes a very, very powerful structure, because these structures balance one another, become a cantilever very, very powerful. And it looks a little more desirable. Those are the kinds of things you study as you go along all the time.
But I think you’ll all see Old Man River Project not so very far away. I think five years we might see this thing getting under way. Everything about it, the community, it was fascinating how much the community liked it. So the head of the present political leader of East St. Louis, used to be the head of the largest high school there, and he has proposed, and we are going to go ahead with this, getting my money to do this now. He wants to have a miniature one in the school yards, possibly about 50 feet in diameter where the kids can walk up the terraces and play on it. He said that the kids who were now in the schools are the ones who are going to be living in that city and they might as well start playing city right now, and he wants them to make their own models of the trees and so forth, so we’re going to go ahead with that so that really will be simulated living which kids love to get into very, very much. And we find it tremendously interesting to young people in how you really do make the town work, and the city work. It’s something that they didn’t get asked into yesterday, but this feels very, very good to them.
Now, there are over 100,000 geodesic domes around the world. I they came, everyone got to use their first in pure emergency, like that dome the World’s Fair Dome in Afghanistan, nothing else would do. They got to using the Radomes when nothing else would do. They got used in the Marine Corps projects when nothing else would do. They all got going, in the Ford Motor Company, nothing else would do. The engineers found they couldn’t put a conventional building up, it didn’t have the strength for it. So everyone of them got going when nothing else would do. And this is why I find then, the little individual doesn’t have to go out and do any promoting. I said then, you only talk to people when they ask you to talk to them, but you find how your thing really works and be absolutely confident so that when people do ask you about it, you can really let it be known what it does, and then it will find its own way, it will sink in by itself synchronize in by itself.
So, I feel, I again am a living guinea pig of a little individual peeling off taking the economic initiative, without any money, and seeing whether he can carry on. I’ve given you a lot of my disciplines, and I have been able to get on. And, some very, very tight spots, but I’ve just tried to give you a few little feelings of things as they go along, but at all points I knew I was dealing with a 50-year program so I just never let myself feel discontented when things went wrong, I’m glad they went this far, if it was taken in a little, and you got a little farther, that’s fine, because we’re on our way, and we find out where the merits are, we find out a lot of things that are wrong, what we need to clean up the next time around to make it work.
The about the large number of geodesic domes now around the world, and there are a very large number of people manufacturing them now. And they are going to be manufacturing them a little better. And I’ve been trying to give you some insights into the there really are some new, completely new generations in geodesics are going to be coming out with the most beautiful kinds of hardware. I want you to anticipate that. What’s gone up so far, a few of those projects are beautifully designed, but there are very, very many that are put up by the kids who are just getting something up and it works, and they are living there, and the kids are getting their own homes for under $1,000, and that’s really wonderful.
We have a beautiful little dome now out in California called the Turtle Dome which is a complete water shed, and a lovely little thing. Only 14 feet in diameter, but you can, it’s a 3/4 sphere, and I’ve had 29 students sitting in there very comfortably for a party having a tea party. And that dome comes apart in 11 minutes, you put it on top of the Volkswagen, and you know the weight is so negligible that it doesn’t bother the top of the Volkswagen top at all, and put it up in another 15 minute when you get there. It is a completely water proof polyester fiberglass dome, and charming, with a, they have translucent hexagons and pentagons where they really put in the like stained glass windows. Very beautiful design. And that one is about $1,000 dome. And that’s truly a lovely home.
Now, we’re getting into a mobile theater for Oxford University which I have been working on for some time, working with people in England on it, so we really are going to be able to have an uncompromised, really a first class theater that can be converted from the Prussianian to the Greek or the Theater in the Round, and completely erectable in one day, and practically movable all around the country. There have not been things like that before. I can see lots of new potentials opening up, and I think it is not to be overlooked that a large number of those geodesic domes that I gave you, you get up to 100,000 count I really know my figure there because I received a counting on the geodesic domes that were made for children’s playgrounds you see them on children’s playgrounds. Of the 100,000 50,000 of those are on children’s playgrounds. What interests me is that kids really like it, you know. It is something apparently very kin to the spirit of that child. It really feels right. And I think it is one reason why the geodesic domes go on to be very popular with Dome Books and so forth, and the Whole Earth Catalog.
But we will be coming to very much more advancement. It will cost less and it’ll be opening like umbrellas and doing a very, very great deal. Now, I would like to change the subject from these kind of projects.
And, I’d like to talk for tomorrow we’re going to get into questions, and I’d like to talk tonight about some of my thoughts some of my thinking about the great mystery of our presence here. I think I said to you that, when in 1927 I made up my mind I was going to do my own thinking, that I think one of the first things I said to myself, (I think I’m repeating to you, now I recall saying to you this) was “since you are going to have to give up all your beliefs,” and you have a mother grandmother who said “Darling, you believe this and that,” and I did because I loved her very much, and I believed it. I carried a lot of momentum of the feelings that I had accepted as a child that my loving parents had given me my feelings about everything, that I didn’t, it was purely believing there was nothing no kind of experimental evidence to prove anything whatsoever.
So, I said, then, if you’re going to do your own thinking, I think one of the first questions you’ve got to ask yourself is, “In view of your experience, that there is such fervor and so much belief in a God and various phases of different kinds of gods by different people, believing in some greater competence and wisdom of great power and great omnipotence and great omniscience.” I said, “What, if you’re going to do your own thinking, does your own experience suggest to you that there is a greater intellect operating in Universe than that of man.” and I said, I think I said to you, I was overwhelmed by it. So I thought really a great deal about this subject as time has gone on. I assure you that when I went on to do all those things that I thought about, at all time I was then making the working assumption that there was, with this great mystery and greater intellect operating that you and I given minds to think with, that we’re supposed to use them to think with. That the wisdom, I would not challenge that wisdom, this is what we are given. I must find out how I can really use all the things I am given. And, I felt really, very, very close to, all those years, to that Great Mystery, trying to understand that every time I can, what it is that is wanted to be done, what should I be doing. But assuming this greater wisdom, and that some kind of communication really does come at you, so I take all the things that do happen as very much as communication. So when things might seem untoward, I don’t take that as untoward, I take it as communication, and I try to understand what I am trying to be told.
Now, I’m sorry that I thought I was going to bring it with me today, and I didn’t. But I’m going to bring it to you tomorrow morning. I have written quite a little about what we are saying here, but I’m going to read to you tomorrow, I’ll bring to you and read to you some things I have been writing about, what I call, what everybody calls, in the Christian world, “The Lord’s Prayer.” But it is, not just to the Christians, the Jewish there is a “Lord’s Prayer,” alright.
Now, the that I’ll discuss tomorrow, but I’d like to go through with you some experiences I have had as the years have gone on going around the world. And,
For instance, I was in Japan, and when I was a little boy going then to, being taken to the church on Sundays, and I had a little paper miter box they called it, I was supposed to save pennies and put them in there, and put coins in there, and you turned those in on Sunday. These were to go to missions so that missionaries could go to the “poor heathens” who were then, didn’t have the advantage that we had about knowing about God, these “poor heathens,” and so as a child you’re all hooked kicked up about that, and this is the way you do get on, with what your particular church looked like, the vestments of the minister, these got to be in your association and the father you loved so much sitting beside you and the mother. You get to very powerful associations, so I found that when my grandmother was High Episcopal Church, and my father was only low Episcopal Church took me to a High Episcopal Church in Boston which was almost like the Catholic Church with their incense, I didn’t know whether that incense was not something I’d had associated with church at first so maybe that’s wrong. This is I told you that I had very high sensitivity of smelling, because on account of my sight had been so bad when I was young, that I smelled things, so the ways churches smelled, the different religions seemed to smell differently, I liked this one, because this is the one I’ve been brought up with, it smells this way, and I’m used to that kind of alter flowers, the smell of those alter flowers, whatever they might be. The little child has these very powerful associations, so when I came to Japan, and I was I had very wonderful associations of people in Japan, and I was asked to go to a little city across by the Yomiuri Shimbun, which was the largest Newspaper in Japan at the time and the owner of it was opening up a new plant of their newspaper on the northwestern side at Saporo of Japan not Saporo at any rate, I was asked to attend the ceremony, and all the ambassadors to Japan from all the foreign countries were invited, and they had a special train for us, special car a special train that took us to this town. So I went with the Ambassadors, we arrived at the place, and they had a Shinto Ceremony for the opening.
And in the Shinto we get into the really oldest of the known going religions, and the Shinto ceremony, I was seated with all the Ambassadors up on the front row at the left hand side, almost like a wedding where there is the groom’s family and the bride’s family. And all the officials of the newspaper and so forth were all over on this right side, so that we were asked, I was treated as an Ambassador, I was put in that rank for this occasion, and so we were told to watch very carefully what went on because a time would come when each one of us would have to go thru a performance, and the Shinto Priest did go through now what we are all sitting there on these benches facing this way, and up here is then a number of saw horses, what we would call, kind of benches we used horses we have under our drawing boards. They were tall ones and there were planks then mounted on them, so there was, in effect, an alter alter means on high there is something up on high, and it was exhibited. And up on top of all those planks were all kinds of vegetables and fruits, and there were bags of rice, and there was sake, and all these things that are grown by Nature were up there. And then, on the table over here about a little to the right of where all our chairs were out in front of us, were an enormous number of fronds it looked just like laurel fronds beautiful green twigs, covered with leaves.
So the Priest went through the thing and then our host went through and then we Ambassadors, in that group, had to do it.
I’ll now do for you what I was taught to do, and I’ll explain it to you as I go. This alter, with all these things is up here, I’ve gotten up from my chair and I must go to exactly the middle here, and facing like this very erect, standing like this. My hands beside me, I must now take my hands (and Bucky makes two loud claps), clap just as loud as I can twice. Then I must go over to the table with all the green fronds, and pick up one of the green fronds, then I must go up to all these fruits and vegetables and things and put it up on top there, then I must go back just as fast as I can here, get in the middle, stand like this, with my hands (and Bucky makes two loud claps again), and then go sit down.
Now, this is a ceremony before people had words. We are really going very far back. What’s going on here is that human beings finding that their survival Nature has something the sun shines, and these things grow , they don’t really know why they grow, but the greeness is something to do with the sun, they have really a sense about chlorophyll, or they have a sense about photosynthesis, but they don’t know what it is, it’s intuitive, something is going on with that green. And, God is very, very busy. This is God, God does these things, but God is extremely busy, so this clapping is to get God’s attention, and then you go and take this green, which shows what you want God to have grow, and you put it up there to show these are the things you’d really like God to have grow for you so you can survive, to thank God for that, and then you clap again to get where God could stop being busy with you and get back to his very important work. That’s what it is. And I couldn’t think of a more beautiful ceremony. I just couldn’t.
So I, and I’d been wondering how I was going to feel. You know, as a kid brought up with the “heathens”, and when I went through one of their own ceremonies, because I would like to do it in great earnestness, so I say I’ve never enjoyed a ceremony so much as I am enjoying this one, it really is beautiful.
Now, I’ve also, of course, having been around the world 37 times, I’ve run into a great deal of philosophy and so forth, but I assure you, to me, this is, whatever we’re talking about here is untalkable. You can just go so far, I am dealing with absolute mystery. But, I began to try to find out some words that would seem to me to be the most effective, because I can understand that the particular shape that you and I have, is entirely to do with the biosphere, the particular one little planet we’d be on that’s suitable the fact is it’s the only one we know of that has any water, and we’re more than 90 percent water, but we are a whole this is a sensing mechanism that can be regenerated here.
I talked to you about the telephone the other day, Joe, on the telephone, do you remember the red telephone? That we’re not the telephone, but this is the sensing equipment and so forth that you are using for the communication. But, this kind of sensing equipment we have on this one little planet, there might not be another one like it, but any other kind of a planet has something else. Yet the sensing mechanism would probably be very necessary all through Universe. And, therefore, I began to see that we might very deliberately have been designed to be problem solvers. We have been given access to having a mind and discovering principles, which no other creature that we know of has the capability to deal in principle. That we are given this capability so that we really could be very important kind of local monitors in maintaining the eternally regenerative integrity of Universe.
I want to get to the nearest expression that I can of this phenomena that I speak of, this Omniscience, Omnipotence. I simply talk about it as the Great Integrity. I found it quite interesting, some of my Japanese friends said that they’d used the word Yamato, in that same way, but, some other Japanese said they don’t really have quite that same meaning, but, at any rate, that’s I find there are a number of generalized principles. I then have what I call you and I use the word Truth. And I see Truth as special case. This is truth, or, that was an apple. The truths are however embracing generalized principles, they tend to be very communicative, and articulate of a generalized principle. So you really feel them as principle therefore you call it the truth. So these special case experiences, or “truths” then tend to lead. You never get to any exactitude as Heisenberg makes it clear, so we simply can get a little closer to the truth, and that’s so I see, there is approaching of truths, and that’s why I talk about then as God being the Synergetic Integral of All Truths. And, I say, these are just words. They are so utterly inadequate, when it’s more than but it is very important to use, these are clues of things that give me such deeper feeling. Tomorrow when I will be able to read these things to you, I would like to because I have written what I do when I do what I call “Praying,” a great deal, and I think it would be better to wait and read what I have than to try to memorize it through or to say it to you now.
But, I just have to have you understand that in all the things I’ve done, absolutely nothing is compared to, absolutely the only thing that has counted all the way through is when my utterly deep feeling of God. Using the word is so inadequate. But, I feel that as I’ll read to you tomorrow, a God that doesn’t need any proselytizing. A God that IS God. A God that I don’t have to suggest what to do to. It doesn’t need information from me, It knows all about it, It knows everything. So that I don’t need to have to make bargains with, I don’t have to have it that way. So I don’t pray to God for I feel you can only talk to God on behalf of everybody, and whatever all of my attempt to talk to God is always, I must try to think about everybody and keep thinking about everybody, I really mean everybody, and if I can get enough to thinking about that, then I can really talk about We will try to talk to God. I can only talk to God in the terms of everybody.
Now, I have had experiences as I have gone along that really make me feel that God is interested in what I’m doing. I assure you. This has been this gets to be really quite difficult matter to talk about, because again it gets to be much too sensitive, because I don’t think it needs you shouldn’t talk very much about it. But I certainly have the big show, everything, is God. Everything . And I feel that the, when I get to I have to, I try then to describe phenomena LOVE, somebody asked about that by love I mean omni-inclusive, exclusively considerate, so I said at the finest and the largest, It is the whole, It is utterly embracing. It doesn’t have any exceptions It just loves. In my lifetime as humanity has been going through the things it has been going through, it has not seemed wise to try to talk about these things. I think lots of people call me a “mechanic” a “technocrat” and things like that because I don’t talk about the things that really count the most that way. Because I am not here to proselytize. Let me say, I feel God is so great, absolutely, I don’t have to do any promotion of God. God can’t be promoted. God is God. Everything. Utterly powerful. So I don’t see it in the terms of a God who would have a special people or anything chosen, it has to be God.
Well, I think the things that I will give you to read tomorrow, or I’ll read it out loud, and some of it has been published and I can tell you where you can find it.
For instance, in INTUITION , the book, INTUITION, in the back I have this Lord’s Prayer. It is something I rewrite, and I rewrite, and I rewrite, as I rethink it and then after awhile I find my thinkings evolute to a point where I suddenly feel a compulsion, I’d better write that out the way I’m saying it now. It’s something you think through, always. You don’t do any recitations of words, you don’t get into any postures, it must be this absolute live thinking. Your absolutely best thinking. To communicate. Anyway.
At the, I think the first or the second session I had with you, I said something as I was going along, this is something I have to, this is a discipline I am giving myself to. At the moment I seem to be going away from that subject, but I’m not really so, but the things that I have felt were, so and so and so and so, and I’ve thought it for a long time, I’m used to saying something, but suddenly I’ve found that that’s not so that way. And, I find myself on stage saying something and having to say, “I take that back,” that’s not the way it is, I’ve learned better. I’ve had to correct myself publicly many times. On occasion of doing this, at the second, there’s something I’ve said, in a sense it was not important, but I realized something I’d said was exaggerated, was not that way, but I had already gone by, and I didn’t want to stop my discourse to talk about it. I should have usually. At the end of that evening I feel very bad because I hadn’t stopped and corrected myself in your presence, but I felt I must not come to the end of this session, without telling you that there was something that I said to you, that was not really that way, that I really knew better, but in momentum, conditioned reflex, I said it that way. And this is something that I have to really be sure to let people know that that’s the way I deal, so if I want to just tell you that I did have such an item, it really is not a flaw in the information, if really you went back and found out what it was, as I remember it, it doesn’t really change the arguments any kind of way, except just the wrong magnitude, but, it’s not important I could not finish without telling you, as I have it is a requirement of mine that I must tell you that I’ve said something that I knew at the second that it was not that way, but I didn’t stop myself to correct it at that time, which bothered me, and that’s what I’m talking about. That I didn’t discipline myself to stop at that moment, and correct it at that moment. That I let anything stay in this meeting of ours in any kind of a flaw to me was very, very bad. But I’m confident, by saying what I’m saying, the flaw is limited because the information was not one that was going to tip you or get you wrong angles on anything.
I think that this, because I don’t know quite what more to say without I would like to read the things to you that I have, and I did put them in a folio to take, and I left them in the office instead of bringing them over here by chance I’m sorry. I was going to talk to read it tonight, but we will do that tomorrow, because we’re going to have quite a long time. There is a lot of time for questions, and I think that as you ask me questions we are going to do enormous amount of cross referencing all the experiences we have been having here together. I am content that I have confronted you with much that I find myself confronted with in life, that I it would take a whole lifetime to tell you all the details obviously, because that’s how long it took a lifetime. But, I think I’ve given you highlights, and particularly, the cull the principles I’ve culled out what I find to be what seemed to be the operative significants in a big way, I would like it very much if you would try to read this thing before you come meet with me tomorrow. I would like to hear expression from you as to whether you feel that I know it is tough reading, but you have begun to know me pretty well, during my experience of producing the SYNERGETICS book which, incidentally, I understand a copy has arrived in New York today, from the press, the actual book, and I may get a copy over the weekend. But they’re that’s almost a half century of work in there. That is there, and we know there are many flaws, and we know many ways, we have already written Sonny more than 100 pages more of a second edition, haven’t we? But doing this together with Sonny Applewhite, sitting in the back there, this wonderful night and incidentally he has made intimate notes by minute, about everything that I have said in this session so that if anytime we want to go back, I can really find anything, he’s got these beautiful notes made.
Sonny all through my developing of this book, first place said, I will never write anything for you Bucky, but I am going to continue to confront you with yourself. And he would say, “In such a major work you are going to have to have definitions and words, very extraordinary clean meanings for words that you use, and you’re coming into that world of science where they’re using the word “particle” and they don’t mean “particle,” and we mustn’t be guilty of that. And if there are no straight lines, what do you say? Now, we have developed a language in that book, and I think you’ll probably find it at least interesting, having had the experience you have had with me. You may really find it quite satisfactory. But in this piece that I have given you, the Complexion, l975, you will be experiencing a lot of the consequence of my really staying in terribly tight on words and not allowing myself the use of any word that I don’t have a really clear, experiential reference meaning for.
Well, let us say Goodnight. And I feel a little bit soft here, because what we’re talking about is so untalkable. But I, I just, I don’t believe, I’m just overwhelmed by God.