Sunday, November 27, 2016
Why was Bucky special?

Cool people have always admired Bucky Fuller, and academic mathematicians spend lots of time dealing with optimal packings of shapes in space. Mathy packings always have a Bucky flavor. Fancy polyhedra jumbled in fancy ways.

Ratshit. In plain reality, humans already found the optimal packing a long time ago.

Rectangles.

Any departure from a rectangle wastes space. The closer you get to a circle, the more waste.

Recent household appliances are growing more bulgy and circular, which makes them harder to fit into a shelf. A bulgy box can't hold more than a rectangular box, and a bulgy box claims more space than it needs.

= = = = =

Why is the rectangle naturally optimal? We don't think of humans as rectangular, but in fact our footprint is rectangular in nearly all situations.

Standing:

Walking:

Sitting on a chair:

Sitting Korean style:

Laying down:

The ONLY exception is sitting cross-legged, which is not a common activity. In that pose we're sort of trapezoidal:

But even when trapezoidal we don't 'pack' hexagonally like the mathematicians think. We don't do this:

We do this:

When we form groups of humans or things that aren't purely randomish (milling around) we favor rows and columns.

Why? Because we don't walk in zigzags. An efficient walk is a straight line, so rows of crops or livestock or merchandise or houses are most efficient in a straight line. Later on, the rows were further enforced by pipes and canals and wires and railroads, which are also more efficient when straight.

Our huts and houses can be either round or rectangular. Round houses (tipis, yurts) are favored by nomads who don't settle in villages and don't own furniture. The advantage of a tipi is not efficient space usage, it's minimalist structural stability. A cone of logs is stable when tied with one rope.

When we settle down in permanent villages, with houses packed closely for protection and for convenient walking and utility service, the houses are rectangles.

So why is the Bucky stuff so wonderful? Damned if I know. It's NOT efficient. It's just dumb.

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Location: Spokane

Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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