With the invention of the planetarium projector came the innovation of the world's first geodesic dome. A lightweight steel structural framework was built on the roof of the Carl Zeiss optical works in Jena, Germany in 1922. It was then covered with ferro cement to become the first thin-shell concrete structure in history.

While the first geodesic dome was designed by Walter Bauersfeld, Buckminster Fuller advanced the popularization and commercialization of polyhedral buildings in the United States and is best known for his application of the word geodesic to this type of polyhedral framework.

Buckminster Fuller was one of our world’s first futurists and global thinkers. His 1927 decision to work always and only for all humanity led him to address the largest global problems of poverty, disease and homelessness. He realized early on that by examining global problems in the context of the whole system—the whole planet—he would have the best chance of identifying large-scale trends that would allow him to anticipate the critical needs of humanity. This “big-picture” approach, which Fuller formulated into a thinking discipline, evolved into a comprehensive assessment of humanity’s global situation—where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going.

Fuller called his approach to global problem-solving “Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science.” The central principle of this approach is “doing more with less,” that is, securing the maximum life-sustaining performance achievable per each pound of material, second of time, and erg of energy invested. Simply put, the principle is that by using the resources on Earth most effectively, we will have enough for everyone to enjoy a high standard of living. This is the principle Fuller dubbed “dymaxion.”

Fuller’s comprehensive research into our global situation led him to pronounce the Malthusian world-view of human overpopulation, resource depletion, and eventual self-destruction to be absolutely in error. Due to advances in technology that Malthus had no way of foreseeing, humanity has developed the capability to provide adequate food, shelter, and energy for every man, woman, and child on Earth.

Fuller saw that if the technology, resources, and know-how that are now devoted to developing weapons of mass destruction were to be applied to “making the world work,” the end of poverty could be realized in a single generation. Nearly twenty years after Fuller predicted the conquest of poverty by the year 2000, the National Academy of Sciences confirmed his prediction.

Fuller collected his global research at his headquarters, which he called the Inventory of World Resources, Human Trends and Needs. The charts of the data he compiled provide a glimpse into a few of the many dimensions of global problem-solving that Fuller explored. The steep and sudden rise of the curve in many of the charts illustrate a phenomenon that Fuller called accelerating acceleration, leading him to proclaim that humanity has reached a critical moment in which new information and technology allow us—and perhaps require us—to make new choices that will lead to physical success for 100% of humanity.

Bucky Fuller was an optimist. At a time when the Worldwatch Institute was predicting global disaster (due to overcrowding, overpollution and insufficient resources), Bucky was quietly promoting his vision of doing more with less.

He was one of the first engineers to realize that the trend over the 19th and 20th centuries was not only to do more, in the sense of producing more manufacturing output, growing more food, and accelerating the progress of technology, but to do more with less. He realized that technology could be used not only to do new things, but to do old things more efficiently.

His geodesic dome was a good example: it created an enclosed space using far less material than prior engineering. He applied the more with less philosophy to all sorts of engineering fields, at scales ranging from hand-held products to entire cities.

Fuller was, above all, a humanitarian. While his focus was always on mathematics, engineering and technology, his aim was always the application of these disciplines to allow humans all over the world to live better lives. Bucky was clearly one of the first citizens of the entire world, not just one nation.

History has proven Bucky's vision right and the malthusian Worldwatch eggheads wrong. The world now feeds billions more people using fewer resources than ever before. Whereas 35% of the world was starving back when Bucky was getting his start, the number had been reduced to 15% by the time he died, despite an increase of 2-3 billion people to feed.

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