Buckminster Fuller was born a few months before my mother’s father, and eight years before the Wright brothers flew. It was the time when electrical utilities, telephones, and movies were novelties. Fuller’s lifetime went from cowboys and locomotives to astronauts tending geo-synchronous communication satellites. Hunger became less common during Fuller’s lifetime, and quality of life improved radically.
He was severely myopic, something nobody noticed until Bucky started school. Later, he said that his impairment forced him to pay attention to large patterns, and made him less likely to prejudge the things he studied. The United States Patent Office awarded Richard Buckminster Fuller twenty-eight patents, and he invented his own geometry (he would say he discovered nature’s coordinate system), but Fuller claimed that he didn’t set out to create the things he did. His goal was to improve the life of every human being, and he might have come up with “flying carpet slippers” if that was what the world needed.
Inventing what the world needed was his lifework. Those needs, and the way the world could work to provide for them, were the big patterns Bucky worked with. The world is the beneficiary of practically limitless solar and gravitational energy. A worldwide effort to discover how to provide for ourselves, a “Design Science Year,” would bring what Buckminster Fuller called “four billion billionaires as yet wholly unaware of their good fortune,” into their inheritance.