Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yakking with Wanderers

On Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 8:58 PM, kirby urner wrote:

> Fair enough Allen, but I've needed to take on
> the beautiful mind crowd for other reasons,
> so why not kill two virtual birds with one
> virtual stone, to use an old Quaker saying?
> There's lots that's rotten in Denmark these
> days, ostensibly beautiful only until you put
> some real weight on it, then it starts seeming
> engineeringly unsound.
> Anyway, I've cleverly tucked some of our most
> basic Bucky-flavored geometry into SQL tables,
> with queries part of the lesson plan. Cagey of
> me, huh.

Just to explain more about "Bucky-flavored":

Fuller's thesis was we got off on the wrong foot by investing so heavily in the cube and rectilinear thinking, whereas it be triangles and tetrahedra that're stable, not cubes, plus this simplex (another name for it) is the topologically simplest "cage" in terms of defining an outside versus an inside in a spatial (volumetric) context.

Soooo.... instead of the cube, why not check out the tetrahedron as our model of unit volume and 3rd powering? Philosophically doable? Yeah, it turns out that's logically sound and results in many psychological benefits, including a revamped "maze" or "labyrinth" of nested polyhedra (those are old words for it) wherein we ratio them 1 : 3 : 4 : 6 for tetrahedron : cube : octahedron : rhombic dodecahedron respectively.

Hmmmm.... those are very simple numbers and these are very basic shapes, one might say primitive, and/or elementary, as in elementary school. But wait, there's more: the aforementioned polyhedra, others like 'em, all fractionate into slivers of volume 1/24 of two kinds, called A and B (or use your own variables), both in left and right handed versions.

Such modular dissection studies are not new in geometry, but such a simple one is, with all these rational, whole number volumes, very accessible to average laypeople, to sixth graders, probably most 4th graders, some of it to 2nd graders, I've done it in Montessori pre-school no problem (call 'em "mixing bowls", make it a cooking show).

And not only that, these practical breakthroughs in pedagogy adhere to the most positively futuristic of the published and written about thinkers, R. Buckminster Fuller, like we don't need to dig out some fringe Kirby Urner or someone else no one has ever heard of, to raise our banner and say "hey, simple geometry, elementary content, recognized kingpin, lots of awards, what's your problem?"

And yet the rank and file still cling to their qyoobism, in fear some "authority" (Grunch?) might super-nix this plan to avail of our hard earned heritage. Our high technology Silicon Forest confronts a semi-paralyzed administrative layer, a middle management not sure what to do. "Shall we teach more of this Bucky stuff or try to cover it up?" seems to be the ongoing calculation. Given recent actions by the Noguchi and Whitney museums, Portland Center Stage, numerous dead tree publications (Time, NYT...), various web sites, I'd say the preponderance of evidence suggests the "cover up" isn't working. Our Silicon Forest is winning this campaign, with a lot of help from its friends.