Friday, September 23, 2011

GUINEA PIG B - The 56 year experiment

Guinea Pig B
R Buckminster Fuller
Critical Path Publishing (2008)

This is the first book by Bucky that I have managed to finish.  Before I congratulate myself, this book was first published as the introduction to “Inventions - the Patented Works of R Buckminster Fuller” (1983).  So what I have done is merely finished reading the introduction to one of Bucky’s books.

As the title and subtitle ‘The 56 year experiment’, of the book suggests it is about Bucky’s experiment “to discover what, if anything, an unknown, moneyless individual, with a dependent wife and newborn child, might be able to do effectively on behalf of all humanity that could not be accomplished by great nations, great religions or private enterprise, no matter how rich or powerfully armed.”

In the more than half a century this experiment was being documented until then, Bucky had to expand his knowledge a great deal and unlearn a great deal more.

As can be expected, I ended this first read wondering what I had actually read, but for now I’ll just reflect on this: “...the fact that we are designed to be born naked, helpless and ignorant is, I feel, a very important matter.  ...we are quite clearly designed to be inexorably driven to learn only by trial and error.  ...that being the only way ...‘how’ we can take advantage of what we have learned from our mistakes.” (from Page 22)

And I just love the way Bucky ends it with, “I hope this book will prove to be an encouraging example of what the little, average human being can do if you have the absolute faith in the eternal cosmic intelligence we call God.

If you are interested in reading Bucky, this would be a good book to start with.  I have not seen the book at the stores and had to order it from Borders at Berjaya Times Square.  It cost RM50.40 including shipping charges and I had to wait about 6 weeks for it, but it was well worth the wait, and it is money well spent.

P.S.  The book contains a listing of all of Bucky’s patents and honorary doctorate citations.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quote ~ 1

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Email from Medard Gable to Joo Hock:

Photo of Medard from

Dear Joo Hock,

Please feel free to forward this to all my friends on your Bucky network.

It is my conviction that Bucky carried the concept of sustainability to a higher level— that of regeneration. What I mean by this is that regeneration is to sustainability as sustainability is to the business-as-usual or conventional non-sustainable development. Sustainability is the concept that development will not destroy or degrade the foundations upon which development depends; that future generations will have the same level of life-support resources as the present generation has. (Non-sustainable development does not care about future generations and their resources or life-support systems; it is all about getting what is wanted right now.) Regenerative development takes sustainability to the next level. Instead of just having the same level of resources in the future as we have now, regenerative development strives to have more resources or better life-support systems in the future than we have now. Here's an example: conventional farming systems results each year in less topsoil and biological capacity to produce than the previous year. Sustainable farming results in maintaining topsoil and biological complexity and capacity. Regenerative agriculture results in more and better quality topsoil and biological complexity each year. One way of looking at it is that "sustainability" seeks to maintain what we have for future generations, and "regeneration" seeks to increase what future generations have.

Regenerative development is at the core of the design science methodology that participants learn at the annual Design Science Labs ( A paper describing regenerative design can be found at

Best regards,

Medard Gabel

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bucky, Precession & You!

The following is from

Hi Friends,

This post is divided into three sections as mentioned above. Let us take it one at a time.

I can hear you asking “Who or what the heck is Bucky?” Well Bucky is short for one of the greatest of minds who lived in the Twentieth Century – Buckminster Fuller. He was one of our world’s first futurists and global thinkers. Born July 12th 1895 (year of the automobile, and radio), at age 22 he married Anne Hewlett. He was the inventor of the Geodesic Dome and dozens of other patents.

He had a lot of personal tragedies:

In 1922, his first child died in his arms of pneumonia just a month before her fourth birthday, after having survived both infantile paralysis and spinal meningitis.

Five years later in 1927, his second daughter Allegra, was born. It was the same year he went bankrupt and lost the company he had started with his father-in-law. Feeling totally depressed, he stood on the edge of Lake Michigan and contemplated suicide. It was then some voice told him `You are not here in this world for yourself!’ Those words caused him to re-evaluate his life and the world!

From that day he decided to commit himself, his wife and infant daughter to solving world problems by designing artifacts that were capable of “doing more with less”. He decided to pay no attention to `earning a living’; never promoting or selling or paying others to do so. He believed that if his designs were good for the world, then nature would take care of him by good precession!

How did it turn out? Well he was well looked after by nature! He has owned 43 cars, 3 planes, and several boats. Although Fuller never graduated from college, he was awarded nearly 50 honorary doctorates for his work in science and the humanities, and over 100 major awards of merit, including the cover of Time magazine in 1964.

He died in 1983 at age 88. If you want to know more just google his name!

What is `precession’? In most small dictionaries you won’t even find the word precession! But on the internet you can see some examples,but mostly it describes precession as related to geography & physics (about the rotation of the earth, gyroscopes etc.)

In 1980 Buckminster Fuller himself said that only about 1 in 10 million people understood `precession’. Well I hope that by the end of this post, I can help to increase that ratio somewhat! And that you the reader may have acquired a working knowledge of this `life-concept’.

The precession I’m talking to you about is that defined, studied and practiced by Bucky himself for over 50 years!

Simple examples of precession:

Dropping a Pebble into a Lake: When a pebble is dropped into a calm lake, as the pebble drops vertically downwards to the bottom, it creates ripples – which travel outwards horizontally away from where the pebble was dropped.

So in the above example, Bucky was referring to the fact that physically an action can create some ripples or side effects, which are perpendicular to the direction of the action or movement. However he took it a step further in the case below.

A Bee Gathering Honey: When a bee gathers honey (facing in one direction), pollen from the flower is being deposited on its legs (which are at right angles to its body). Thus in the act of gathering honey, the bee unknowingly pollinates the flowers – thus helping plant life to grow.

Bucky philosophised that the bee is getting a reward from nature because it is helping nature to reproduce plant life! So he theorised that if he himself were to do something to benefit the world, then he would always be well looked after and rewarded by the Universe! He believed that he need not live as most of us live – always being worried about earning an income, of surviving! As far as he was concerned that philosophy worked out exceedingly well for him as you will know by reading of his accomplishments.

But what about us laymen, normal average mortals; how can we use this philosophy? That brings me to the third part of this post – YOU & Precession.

What can You & I do to use precession to our advantage? Let us analyze the example of the Bee Gathering Honey further. Does the bee know it is helping the universe in its task of preserving plant life? No! Does the bee need to know that it is helping the universe in order to get its reward? No! All it has to do, is go after its desire or goal (to collect honey) and it will automatically be provided with its rewards!

Similarly I would like to point out that we human beings are also `programmed for happiness’ by nature (or the universe or God)! So all we have to do in order to get good precession is to go after our goals and dreams with a passion – knowing that when we pursue our purpose, we are actually helping the universe in our own unique way!

Just think about it. If you are happy, you naturally spread this happiness: your spouse is happy, your children are happy, your family is happy, your office colleagues are happy to see you! If you are depressed, you spread your depression to one and sundry! A happy person does not get into fights or start wars! So it is good to go after your own happiness.

Imagine what would happen if the bees were to go on strike and stopped gathering honey. The pollination of flowers would not take place and plants would eventually die out! (This idea was explored a little in the movie `Bee Story’.) However this won’t happen because the bees are `programmed’ by nature to go out and gather honey and don’t have a choice in the matter!

However we humans have been given the choice to follow our `program’ and be happy or go against nature and be miserable! If we keep saying that this world is `illusion’ and try to avoid living life to the fullest now – hoping somehow that will qualify us to live a better after-life, then we are not unlike the bees that go on strike! We are going against nature and God! Thus if we persist in living a miserable life in this lifetime (which is against nature), we have no chance of being happier in the next life!

So my suggestion to you if you are an average person (not Buckminster Fuller) is to:
Go after your dreams with your whole heart and soul knowing that the universe is for you. You will know if you are going in the right direction, by the precession you create. If you have good precession, nature will pat you on your back by giving you `lucky circumstances’ and you will achieve success and happiness easily.

If on the other hand you are off track and you create bad precession, then the same universe may give you a `knock’ on the head rather than a pat on your shoulder to get back on course again! Setbacks and lucky breaks are just nature’s way of giving you both`negative or positive feedback’ – so that you can steer in the correct direction!

Well I hope today’s post has caused you to put on your thinking caps a little. I also hope that it has helped make the word `precession’ less of a mystery! See you soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


What is the most important question? What is the question behind that question?

Life is filled with questions. How we answer them is who we are. Questions, questions, questions. How we learn, and when we think we have the answer—one that doesn't lead to other questions— how we stop learning.

Some questions are trivial, some are profound. Some lead to insight, change, revolution, and transformation; others to frustration and atrophy. A “good” question is one that leads to many more questions; a great question is one that sets in motion a cascade of inquiry.

Our questions reflect what we are concerned with, what we are reading, what we value, who we are communicating with, what we are hungry for. Some are “naïve,” as judged by “experts.” Others, often by experts, are so specialized they make sense to only a few people.

Questions have a power to them; they automatically organize the mind in certain directions. Someone asks you a question and it structures your mind in a way that provides an answer. Questions have the power to divide people and/or bring them together.

What is the biggest question you can ask? What is your Big Question?

Buckminster Fuller said “Dare to be naïve.” Please feel free to be so.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Who was R. Buckminster Fuller

“For the first time in history it is now possible to take care of everybody at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. Only ten years ago the ‘more with less’ technology reached the point where this could be done. All humanity now has the option to become enduringly successful.”
– R. Buckminster Fuller, 1980

This confident assertion was made in 1980 by the late R. Buckminster Fuller–inventor, architect, engineer, mathematician, poet and cosmologist. As early as 1959, Newsweek reported that Fuller predicted the conquest of poverty by the year 2000.

In 1977, almost twenty years later, the National Academy of Sciences confirmed Fuller’s prediction. Their World Food and Nutrition Study, prepared by 1,500 scientists, concluded, “If there is the political will in this country and abroad... it should be possible to overcome the worst aspects of widespread hunger and malnutrition within one generation.”

Even with tragedies like Ethiopia and Somalia, it is becoming clear that, as Fuller predicted, we have arrived at the possibility of eliminating hunger and poverty in all the world within our lifetime.

Buckminster Fuller was truly a man ahead of his time. His lifelong goal was the development of what he called “Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science” – the attempt to anticipate and solve humanity’s major problems through the highest technology by providing “more and more life support for everybody, with less and less resources.”

Fuller was a practical philosopher who demonstrated his ideas as inventions that he called “artifacts.” Some were built as prototypes; others exist only on paper; all he felt were technically viable. He was a dogged individualist whose genius was felt throughout the world for nearly half a century. Even Albert Einstein was prompted to say to him, “Young man, you amaze me!”

Fuller's 56 – year Experiment

In 1927, at the age of 32, Buckminster Fuller stood on the shores of Lake Michigan, prepared to throw himself into the freezing waters. His first child had died. He was bankrupt, discredited and jobless, and he had a wife and new-born daughter. On the verge of suicide, it suddenly struck him that his life belonged, not to himself, but to the universe. He chose at that moment to embark on what he called “an experiment to discover what the little, penniless, unknown individual might be able to do effectively on behalf of all humanity.”

Over the next fifty-four years, he proved, time and again, that his most controversial ideas were practical and workable.

During the course of his remarkable experiment he:
  • was awarded 28 U.S patents
  • authored 28 books
  • received 47 honorary doctorates in the arts, science, engineering and the humanities
  • received dozens of major architectural and design awards including, among many others, the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects and the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects
  • created work which found itself into the permanent collections of museums around the world
  • circled the globe 57 times, reaching millions through his public lectures and interviews
Geodesic Domes

Buckminster Fuller is best known for the invention of the geodesic dome – the lightest, strongest, and most cost-effective structure ever devised. The geodesic dome is able to cover more space without internal supports than any other enclosure.

It becomes proportionally lighter and stronger the larger it is. The geodesic dome is a breakthrough in shelter, not only in cost-effectiveness, but in ease of construction. In 1957, a geodesic dome auditorium in Honolulu was put up so quickly that 22 hours after the parts were delivered, a full house was comfortably seated inside enjoying a concert.

Today over 300,000 domes dot the globe. Plastic and fiberglass "radomes" house delicate radar equipment along the Arctic perimeter, and “radome” weather stations withstand winds up to 180 mph. Corrugated metal domes have given shelter to families in Africa, at a cost of $350 per dome. The U.S. Marine Corps hailed the geodesic dome as "the first basic improvement in mobile military shelter in 2,600 years." The world’s largest aluminum clear – span structure is a geodesic dome which used to house the ‘Spruce Goose’ at Long Beach Harbor. Fuller is most famous for his 20-story dome housing the U.S. Pavilion at Montreal’s Expo ’67. Later, he documented the feasibility of a dome two miles in diameter that would enclose mid-town Manhattan in a temperature-controlled environment, and pay for itself within ten years from the savings of snow-removal costs alone.

Fuller was one of the earliest proponents of renewable energy sources–solar (including wind and wave)–which he incorporated into his designs. He claimed, "there is no energy crisis, only a crisis of ignorance." His research demonstrated that humanity could satisfy 100% of its energy needs while phasing out fossil fuels and atomic energy. For example, he showed that a wind generator fitted to every high-voltage transmission tower in the U.S. would generate three-and-a-half times the country’s total recent power output.

Spaceship Earth

Fuller originated the term “Spaceship Earth.” His DymaxionTM Map was awarded the first patent for a cartographic system and was the first to show continents on a flat surface without visible distortion, appearing as a one-world island in a one-world ocean. His World Game ® utilizes a large-scale Dymaxion Map for displaying world resources, and allows players to strategize solutions to global problems, matching human needs with resources. His Inventory of World Resources, Human Trends and Needs was created to serve as an information bank for the World Game.

Fuller's Archives

In some ways, Fuller’s most significant artifact is the extensive personal archives that he maintained throughout his life. Buckminster Fuller died in July, 1983, leaving behind him a thoroughly documented 56-year experiment – a testament to the effectiveness of individual initiative.
Buckminster Fuller Institute - assessed on October 20, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

What is True Wealth

(image from

The case of the billionaire on a sinking ship
Who offers to pay a million dollars
For the life preserver
Buoyantly supporting the one and only life belted individual
Floating safely away from the disaster
Which offer the lucky one rejects
Even though finally bid for at the tycoon's limit
Of a billion dollars "cash money"
Proves that money is not wealth
For it cannot buy any "henceforth"
Days of life.

Under omnirealistic conditions
When bluffing and credit are of no avail
Money can be articulated
Neither backwardly, forwardly, nor now.

True wealth is the already accomplished
Organization of physical environment resources
By human capabilities
To clothe, shelter, feed,
Protect, inform
And accommodate the initiatives,
Ans transport requirements
Of human lives.

The magnitude of true wealth consists
Of the number of forward days
Of the number of human beings
Assuredly provided for
By at hand artifacts and consumables.

(from And It Came to Pass -- Not to Stay
by R. Buckminster Fuller
Lars Muller Publishers - 2008)