Sunday, November 05, 2017

Playing with Blocks

Back in the early to mid 1990s, I would make trips to California in connection with my work with Synergetics. I went to the GENI organized Centennial in 1995, when Tara was just learning to walk.  Before that, I'd been to a Pergamon Press sponsored conference on Buckminsterfullerene in Santa Barbara. Another time, we had a confab in which "modules" were thematic.  David Koski was curious about what Yasushi Kajikawa and Einar Thorstein were up to, in their respective modularization games.

Much more recently, within the last year, Koski's block-themed play has turned towards a dissection of the E-module, the one published about in Synergetics.  I've called it the Beanstalk Series as that story, of Jack and the magic beanstalk (grown from magic beans) provides etymological roots for the Fe ("fee"), Fi ("fie"), Fo ("Foe") and Fum modules.  Of course there's a tie-in with Grunch of Giants (one of Fuller's last books).

The wrinkle Koski introduces, with all of these shapes, is that of "phi scaling", meaning notching up all straight-line inter-distances by phi, not quite doubling at 1.618.  When linear distances amplify by that factor, volume goes up as a 3rd power of same, giving us a vocabulary of ...E6, E3, E, e3, e6... modules, where the lowercase 'e' signals "phi down" and uppercase "phi up".

Spatial geometry is not getting its just deserts as a curriculum topic these days, especially in kindergarten, because that would mean telling the truth about more things, and truth is not always convenient.  Using a calibrated bucket of liquid to show displacement is also potentially messy when done for real.  The schools that make instructional video making their specialty will have a head start.