by E.J. Applewhite
Click the yellow arrows above to see other inventions.
Synergetics is Fuller's name for the geometry he advanced based on the patterns
of energy that he saw in nature.
For him, geometry was a laboratory science with the touch and feel of physical
models--not rules out of a textbook. He started with models of the closest
packing of spheres. From that basic starting point he derived triangles
as the most economical relationship between events.
He did not start with Euclid's lines in the sand or Descartes' cubes and
square XYZ-coordinates. Fuller felt that the old classic approaches did
not describe the way nature actually behaves. For instance, Euclid's lines
were thought to go off to infinity. Fuller says lines are vectors of energy
and he rejected the notion that anything physical could be extended indefinitely.
Descartes cubes are unstable forms. For Fuller, the world is built of stable,
finite structures. His triangular coordination depends on tetrahedral models.
(A tetrahedron is a pyramid with a triangular base.) Four spheres close
pack into a stable tetrahedron: good. Eight spheres stack into an unstable
cube: bad. His geometry hinges on the tetrahedron, the simplest structural
system within insideness and outsideness: he advances it as the most economical
way to measure space and to account all physical (and metaphysical!) experience.
This is what he calls synergetics: an empirical mathematical system in which
geometry and number mesh without fractions. It gains its validity not from
classic abstractions but from the results of individual physical experience.
His two-volume work "Synergetics" has the subtitle: Explorations in the Geometry
E.J. Applewhite collaborated on the books Synergetics I and
II with Buckminster Fuller. He recommends Kirby Urner's Synergetics
on the Web for an excellent graphic introduction to Fuller's synergetic
geometry, plus links to other sites describing synergetics--many with gorgeous