Subject: Technology has been trying to rescue humanity for many centuries.

To: Editor, New York Times

July 13th, 2004

To The Editor:

Today the U.S. Postal Service is honoring R. Buckminster Fuller, one of America's greatest inventors, in a ceremony in downtown San Diego, and yesterday at Stanford University.  Local Bucky (as he was called) aficionados (as we might be called) have been singing his praises all morning.

Not a day goes by when the average person does not walk on, in, or under, or at least view, some large structure based on one or more of Bucky's engineering principles.

Nor does a day go by that we do not use something which might have been lubricated with "Buckyballs", discovered by scientists who saw Bucky's famous Geodesic Dome as a molecular model of a carbon atom, and now, that same basic universal structure is a common molecular shape for some of the finest lubricants available anywhere.

Soon, not a day will go by when we will not ingest medications -- or at least vitamins -- contained within, or simply made into, a "Buckyball" structure, which may also contain nanomachines and RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags.

Technology has been trying to rescue humanity for many centuries.  Bucky identified that task as THE goal of technology.  But he was not blind to its hazards.

After the Stone Age and the Bronze Age, and various other "ages", where progress crept forward as if on tiptoes and afraid of the future, came the "Industrial  Revolution", when great machines could be built.  Henry Ford turned the Industrial Revolution into the Manufacturing Revolution, when everyday people could suddenly experience the joys of modernization.  It wasn't just for the railroads and draining mines and so forth that complex and wondrous machines existed -- people could have indoor plumbing and automobiles, and thousands of other inventions, too!  Shoe stores all had x-ray machines for your children's feet, showing that technology could go way too far sometimes.

Indeed, something big WAS missing -- perhaps one could call it "intelligent complex design".  The blending of widely separate ideas into solutions for humanity's many problems.  Bucky wanted to package and process human waste for use as a fertilizer, for instance.

It was the intelligent design revolution which Bucky can be largely credited with having invented (even if not all his designs were actually all that intelligent).  It's not enough to have a lot of interesting tools, machines, and materials.  They have to assembled into something useful, something that does work for humanity.  And all the pieces have to fit.  Bucky was extraordinary at getting the pieces to fit.  It might take him 12 hours to explain it in one lecture, but the pieces would all fit!

When it comes to efficient living structures, Bucky was a master builder.  Today his structural designs protect American military antenna installations from the elements around the world (such as in Antarctica).  They also cover thousands of large oil tanks, which reduces evaporation of the oil within, and tens of thousands of people live in Bucky-inspired structures year-round, saving small fortunes in heating, cooling, and other costs.

There was one technology Bucky could not support, although in his early days he marveled at it (as did so many others of that era).  It was nuclear power.  After Three Mile Island, when everyone in America was reexamining the issue, he came out with several strong statements questioning the technology, and there has not been a single new nuclear power plant ordered in America since then.  This author believes Buckminster Fuller's comments had a major impact on the swing away from that dangerous technology.  After Three Mile Island, Bucky wrote:

"There has, as yet, been NO answer whatever on the part of science, government, or business on what to do about atomic wastes.  They are accumulating ever more threateningly, in tentative, under the carpet sweepaways.  Also, the atoms which are providing this energy are being stolen from the physical structure of Spaceship Earth.  It is not wise to burn your house or your ship to get some heat for one cold winter's night."


"Humanity is abysmally ignorant regarding atomic energy."

(Both quotes by R. Buckminster Fuller, 1980, from Fuller's introduction to :"THREE MILE ISLAND: TURNING POINT by Bill Keisling (Veritas Books, Inc., Seattle, WA, 1980).  Fuller felt that Keisling's book would bring people up to date "technically, business-wise, legally, and morally".  If enough people had taken "the relatively few hours it will take to read [Keisling's book]", perhaps humanity would understand "the game being played by big money and politics at the highest stakes in history -- humanity's continuance in Universe.")

While we honor Bucky and all he did for humanity, while we celebrate his passion and his intellect, his inventiveness and his child-like inquisitiveness, we should not forget, nor disrespect, his words of caution.  It is high time we paid attention to his final warning about solving the #1 problem for humanity -- getting clean energy.  We must turn away from dangerous, dirty, and inefficient nuclear power, and switch to the renewable energy solutions of which Bucky himself was so fond.


Russell D. Hoffman
Bucky Aficionado
Computer Programmer
Carlsbad, CA

This author's personal links about Bucky, nuclear power, and related issues:

Essay about Bucky's "Global Energy Network":

A map of the United States in the style of Buckminster Fuller (i.e., chock-full of accurate data), showing every major nuclear event on US soil, in "time lapse" form, since 1941 (a truly Bucky viewpoint -- a world version of this map -- is scheduled to be presented at an educational forum at the United Nations next May (2005)):

List of all U.S. nuclear power plants:

"Speak of the Devil": The True History of Nuclear Power in America:

Links outside the author's web site:

Bucky Fuller Institute:



 "The terrorists know how vulnerable the sites are. The only thing we're keeping it from is the American people."  Representative Christopher Shays (D-Connecticut), sworn hearings on nuclear power, Washington, D.C, March 10th, 2003