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SCIENCE IS WE - MBL SUMMER 1954

Constructing a Geodesic Dome, 1954

Photograph courtesy of Paul Ferris Smith
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Two graduate students of Buckminster Fuller at MIT are assembling one of his geodesic domes as a restaurant adjunct to the Nautilus Motel. Fuller devised these structures on geometric principles whereby the total strength of the building increased in log ratio to its size. As the domes were cheap, sturdy, transportable and easily assembled they were extensively used as housing during World War II. The Woods Hole Dome was one of the earliest to be constructed for civilian purposes.

A lasting monument to Fuller's work lies in the field of chemistry. In 1985, three scientists, Robert Curl, Harold Kroto and Richard Smalley, discovered a new form of the carbon element in which 60 or 70 atoms are arranged in symmetrical patterns within closed shells. The pattern resembled a geodesic dome and inspired the scientists to label their discovery the "Buckyball" or Fullerene. In 1991 the journal, Science, named the buckyball "the molecule of the year." In 1996 the three chemists were awarded the Nobel Prize.




Curated by Ann Weissmann, Exhibitions Curator MBLWHOI Library




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