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)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Individual Initiative - according to Bucky

Sunsight - photo taken along E1 (North bound, after Bukit Beruntung) on August 1, 2009 about 8.00 a.m.

I said, What can a little man effect toward such realizations in the face of the formidable power of great corporations, great states, and all their know-how, guns, monies, armies, tools and information? Then, self-answering: The individual can take initiatives without anybody’s permission. Only individuals can think, and can look for the principles manifest in their experiences that others may be overlooking because they are too preoccupied with how to please some boss or with how to earn money, how to take care of today’s bills. Only the individual disregards his fears and commits himself exclusively to reforming the human environment by developing tools that deal more effectively and economically with evolutionary challenges. Humans can participate -consciously and competently – in fundamental ways, to changes that are more favorable to human life. It became evident that the individual was the only one that could deliberately find the time to think in a cosmically adequate manner.

Excerpt from
The Buckminster Fuller Annual Memorial Lecture – 1997
View the full article here

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mars - the red planet

The Bucky Group is ever evolving, creating a space for anyone interested in Life-long LEARNING and DOING and SHARING their experiences and IDEAS. The Group aims to be a source of inspiration, an idea brewery for everyone to Re-invent themselves, Design their Future, Recycle their Lives.

Come join us every Saturday at Hairfair, The Adelphi #B1-10, and Sunday at MacRitchie Reservoir Park in Singapore, we meet physically in the mornings.

You may also join The Bucky Group on Facebook, created as a virtual Platform where we can meet virtually and share on creating a more sustainable global community.

(The above is courtesy of Joo Hock who heads the Bucky group in Singapore.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth

facsimile of the 1969 edition

Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (OMSE) is a work of synthesis for Fuller. His editorial goal was to provide an accessible, digestible chunk of his extraordinary World for us, the ordinary reader, to savor. And, oh! What an exciting tale he tells... and so timely for the birth of the New Millennium. How we wish he and Leonardo could be here for it... you know their websites would be Way Cool Places.

Fuller paints a Human history-long framework for how physical wealth, (the wealth of exclusive resource ownership), is eclipsed by information wealth (a valuation on know-how) when it comes to survival of our species on the fragile, closed system he called "Spaceship Earth."

Well before our time, Fuller lamented "the ever-acceleratingly dangerous impasse of world-opposed politicians and ideological dogmas." By then, he had seen a host of them -- the 'great war', the Macarthy 'commie' hunts in the US, the Korean and Vietnam 'conflicts' - but he didn't give up on our species. He did not join others with their doomsday, apocalyptic vision of the fall of human kind.

Instead he identified the solution, the resolution to world-wide clashes of ideological dogmas -- the computer! The computer and access to information would push human kind to evolve to a higher order of being. How timely a message as we enter this new millenium!

If you have never read it, we encourage you to do it now. If you read it some time ago and are considering the nanocorp and small business revolutionary perspective, we strongly encourage you to grab a copy and re-read it from your new mindset.

{Sohodojo is an independent, non-profit (U.S. 501(C)(3)) applied research and development laboratory with an associated education mission to support solo and family-based microenterprise and small business entrepreneurs in rural and distressed urban communities.}

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Call me Trimtab

(Above photo from
Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary -- the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there's a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab.
It's a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it's going right by you, that it's left you altogether. But if you're doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go.
So I said, call me Trim Tab.
Bucky quoted in the February 1972 issue of Playboy.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mechanical Jellyfish

Young Bucky loved spending his summers at the family owned Bear Island. There he learned a reverence for and appreciation of nature. Many of his inventions mirrored what he later designated as 'Natural Technology' i.e. employing the extremely efficient techniques he perceived within Nature.

One of his early inventions was a mechanical oar patterned after the motion of jellyfish. "It consisted of a tepee-like cone mounted on the end of a pole and resembled an inside-out umbrella. Standing at the rear of his boat, Fuller would pull the pole toward him through a large iron ring attached to the rear of the boat. As the peak of the umbrella-like invention pointed toward the boat, it displayed little resistance. However, when it pushed backward into the water, the cone opened, propelling the boat forward."

After this "Bucky also discovered that his boar trips were much safer and more enjoyable because he could see any hazardous or interesting events developing in front of him much more sooner than if he were rowing facing the rear."

I wonder why this simple and practical idea has not taken hold on the boating community.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Octet Truss

This morning some of us met at KL Sentral's food court to discuss Bucky. After the session I went on my walk-about of KL for photos to update my KL blog. Of course, I didn't have my brolly with me and I had to take shelter from the rain along Bukit Bintang. I looked up and noticed that the place I was sheltering under was made up of a number of tringular structures joined together.

In "Buckminster Fuller's Universe; His Life and Work" by Lloyd Steven Sieden, Sieden mentioned that when Bucky was in kindergarten, he was given dried peas and toothpicks (the traditional toy building material of the day). '... the other children immediately began reproducing structures which mirrored the buildings they observed in daily life. Naturally, their frameworks were rectangular, supported by right angle corners held firm by the dried peas. However, with no accurate visual experiance to rely upon, young Bucky began creating a structure which satisfied his sense of touch rather than imitated adult construction. Accordingly, his framework was composed of stable triangles and was, in fact, a rudimentary model of the octet truss, which he would invent and patent in 1961. .... Even today, few people who are not involved in the construction industry appreciate the importance of the octet truss. ...'

So the next time you see such a structure, you know that its Bucky's idea.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Generalized Principle

In Money & You, we always hear about generalized principles.

"The word 'generalization' as used in the literary sense means 'very broad'. It suggests trying to cover too much territory - too thinly - to be useful. The literary men say 'this is too general'. In the mathematical sense, however, the meaning of generalization is quite different.

The mathematician or the physicist looks for principles which are persistently operative in nature, which hold true in every specific case. If you can find principles that hold true in every case, then you have discovered what the scientist calls a 'generalized principle'."

(from Utopia or Oblivion)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Piano Top

Bucky begins the book 'Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth' with: " I am enthusiastic over humanity's extraordinary and sometimes very timely ingenuities. If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep afloat that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver."

A little later down, he adds, "I think that we are clinging on to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday's fortuitous contrivings as constituting the only means for solving a given problem."

The question that I have to ask myself is, "how many table tops am I clinging to?" especially with my 'that's the way it's supposed to be done' and 'that's the way I've always done it' mentality.

What about you?
(Photo above from

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth

Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth is a short book by R. Buckminster Fuller, first published in 1969. The original edition is now out of print, although partial/complete copies of the text may be found on the internet, both hard-bound and paperback. A new paperback edition, (July 15, 2008) is now available however.

The book relates Earth to a spaceship flying through space. The spaceship has a finite amount of resources and cannot be resupplied.


Some of the covers dug up from the internet (I forgot the sites where these were taken from).