Dome technology will change society for the better.

"To understand the Universe, you must understand the language in which it's written, the language of Mathematics" Galileo Galilei, 15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642

by: Jay Salsburg, July, 2001

The main issue, current building practices use ancient schemes and materials to make dwellings. These dwellings depend on gravity for support. When the Earth moves under them, or wind and water pushes against them, inertia and non-linear forces cause the dwelling to tear itself apart. This page reveals dwelling technology available that prevents this inane problem, but the general public, including government, research, and education institutions, are either unaware or are avoiding this primary technology.

"Traditionalists may argue correctly, that the main purpose of business is still to make a profit, but that begs the question of how profit is defined and how it is achieved. A thousand years ago enterprises pursued profit, but they operated in an agrarian world based on peasant labor. The industrial revolution that began in the 17th century brought a radically new economy (though it had its doubters, too). It did not eliminate the pursuit of profit in one form or another, but it transformed just about everything else from finance to family life, from work to war, from resource use to religion. Today, on an even bigger, faster scale, a new economic and social system is taking form. It, too, will transform just about everything else." Alvin Toffler

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke

This 'Magic' I will refer to as ClarkeMagic.

I shall use this new term as a figure of merit; the ClarkeMagic Quotient.

My inventions and the enhancements to other inventions constitute a system of dwelling that may, in a positive way, affect the entire underpinnings of civilization.

Civilization is a culture of human existence that depends on technology to provide the primary necessities of life; food - shelter - clothing.

Without Shelter (used here in Capitals to indicate the formal sense) the other two primal necessities would be only for survival. Shelter is the Artifact that sustains civilization. Civilization may be recognized by its Cities (no City, no Civilization). Cities are built-up as clusters of Dwellings and larger buildings supported by associated infrastructure and institutions (governments).

Shelter is the all-important Artifact defining Civilization. The industrial revolution about which Toffler refers began in the 17th Century and progressed (in this case progress may be pejorative) to the point we are today, Dwellings may be manufactured of sophisticated materials and abundantly mass produced. Since cities have defined the so-called industrial revolution, they affected the migration of humankind from the agrarian culture of the pre-17th Century to the present urban culture. The human population explosion that has marked the past 300 years may only be contributed to and sustained by technology. All the great Empires of the past perished due to a lack of technology to rebound from calamity, whether natural or man-made. The industrial revolution is giving way to a new and different revolution. This is marked by new technology, most of which are information-centric systems and devices invented in the past 50 years. I will refrain from mentioning most of them except the specific few that have helped me in my endeavors to create my inventions.

One of the main problems faced by humans in civilization is the acquisition of a Home. Housing in the manifestation of a home includes all the social encumbrances as institutionalized government, finance, and religion. Housing has devolved into business for profit, and very profitable enterprise-housing is. The housing construction industry consists of a major segment of the US Economy. The very word "Economy" is somewhat misleading in this application of the word. In its simplest definition - 'Careful, thrifty management of resources, such as money, materials, or labor' - the use of the word in application to the housing industry runs contrary to this definition. A Contemporary "House" is not Economical.

In its truest sense, economy is a forced condition brought about by organized scarcity, therefore necessitating the frugal use of materials and resources. However, the use of the word in today’s social standing means a system of economy; the way in which finance and resources are utilized to create material wealth. Wealth gives way to prosperity. Certainly a prosperous civilization is not preoccupied with the economy of resource utilization, but it should. The very nature of prosperity is the way in which resources are utilized. The words 'abundance' and 'flourish' come to mind when the word prosperity is used to describe civilization. Yet economy means scarcity, there is seemingly a conflict of concepts.

The actual utilization of resources is decided by the artisans who fashion and produce our necessities. The artisan chooses materials based on the experiences taught by previous artisans through mentoring, education, apprenticeship, and internship. However, when these experiences are exploited to produce products for profit, Institutions get involved in regulating the way products are produced. Standards and Codes are the result. One of these numerous standards is the "Uniform Building Code (UBC)." This is the 'Bible' for building houses. It consists of a blinding flurry of regulations and ordinances all supposedly created to put 'Safety' into modern housing. The major fallacy to this notion of safety is that there is no safety, only protection like the way a windbreaker protects you from the rain and wind on board a sailboat.

How do we errantly currently protect ourselves with contemporary shelter? We protect ourselves with contemporary materials fashioned into structures made mostly of dirt (Plaster, Gypsum, Spackle, etc.) and wood. Sounds like primeval man. The organization of these structures is ordained by the institutions of government, finance, and education. The UBC is the wall of babble that separates the common human from his or her control over their direct access to innovation in housing. If it were not for the extent of cities consisting of the massive engorgement of resources to construct them, there may not be the need to go beyond the present shabby methodologies of constructing houses. This is why there is an almost hysterical obsession with current contemporary housing design. Most people just want to get their piece of prosperity and retire. The complex system of regulation, inspection, licensing, franchise, finance, adjudication, construction, and maintenance, creates a barrier to design innovation. More logically, the gross defects outweigh actual gains. If it were not for the current abundant utilization and waste of resources, modern housing would not be possible. This abundance will, by nature, become scarce. There must be an alternative means of building houses. When dwellings are in need of rebuilding, at a 50 year or less interval, these structures will not lend themselves to remodeling; they also do not lend themselves to recycling. They will be demolished and the debris placed in a landfill. That means the direction almost every house will take is back to the earth, buried and covered as the degradable materials they are.

Just like an aluminum soda can may be recycled, housing technology, by nature, must migrate to being recyclable and renewable without the use of resources other than other recycled materials. Thus comes the revelation, housing must be renewable. Current housing technology does not embody this concept. The institutions that have sprung up in the industrial revolution to support and extend the housing industry only exist to support unsustainable growth.

One of the side effects of the "Information Age" is that common people can receive and act on reliable information that may be viable alternatives to the "Status Quo" of contemporary methods for providing necessities such as Shelter. Using modern design techniques and eternal natural principles of geometry, a controversial but welcomed alternative reveals itself.

A most ancient form of life in the ocean today is the Radiolarian which is a protozoan having a siliceous skeleton of spicules. The spicules which make up their skeleton are arranged in the most interesting order of simplicity of design. These creatures have survived for 100s of millions of years with little or no change. An analysis of the geometry of the radiolarian reveals the utilization of basic polyhedron and self-tessellating spherical webs.

I have made an extensive study of Polyhedron, Tensegrity (Tension - Integrity) , and self-tessellating spherical webs and their application to buildings and houses. The use of Personal Computers and Solid Modeling Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Software provides a wealth of information and tools from which to choose. This information comes in the form of living models that may be manipulated, analyzed, and tested to judge as to their suitability for application in housing. After many years of experimentation, a few models are reveled as viable structures which lend themselves to development.

There are a few criteria for selecting the models to develop.

1. All materials used in construction must be recyclable.
2. The entire structure must be able to be renewed by the owner without intensive labor and without demolishing and starting over as is seen in contemporary design (try to replace a corner wall in your house).
3. The design must be easily mass-produced with automation (robotic manufacturing, like a refrigerator, washing machine, automobile, or DVD player).
4. The entire structure must allow erection by the owner without intensive manual or skilled labor, or highly specialized tools.
5. The structure must be alterable by the owner anytime in the future; That is, a window must be able to be replaced with a solid panel or door, without remodeling, or requiring highly specialized tools, or intense labor.
6. The model must afford a superior resistance to natural forces while providing a 'Garden of Eden' dwelling environment.
7. It must be less expensive than conventional housing per unit volume space through cost-reducing measures; by methods of mass fabrication, caravan transportation of the finished structure to the erecting site, and the simple labor of site-erection.
8. Since contemporary Housing Authorities are very protective of their antiquated positions, these new designs must be approved by the myriad of government institutions that are speciously manifested to protect us from harm. This may allow lending institutions to provide mortgages for purchase by the prospective home owner.

Based on these criteria, there seems to be at least 4 designs worth pursuing.

Remember the ClarkeMagic Quotient? Dome technology may offer many advantages over contemporary housing designs, and I do not mean the current available dome designs like so many Kits available on the Web. What are the Measurable Quotients?

1. Three times more interior floor space per dollar.

My designs give the dweller the ability to install 1, 2, or 3 lofts. These lofts provide multi-story living space and double the foundation floor space in the dome. These lofts are supported by the dome and do not require support columns. Using my designs, a home may be constructed with up to three times more floor space per dollar than contemporary houses.

2. Strength Amplification.

This is the magic part. My dome designs employ compound curvature. Forces are dissipated into the superstructure in all directions simultaneously; I call Omni-directional Strength Amplification (OSA). These forces are absorbed and dissipated evenly by every structural member in the dome. Conventional houses using rectilinear beam-strut design as described in the UBC cannot, by design, dissipate forces evenly. These forces are unevenly channeled to the connections of the struts and beams. This is what causes the all-too common roof-leak into the narrow walls, or the roof to fly off as seen in those many Storm Videos. Conventional houses depend on gravity to stand upright, domes do not depend on gravity, and they are strong in all directions independent of gravity. The forces exerted on a dome are absorbed by the entire structure evenly in all directions.

Because "all forces are balanced" is not the end of the Magic. Unlike rectilinear structures, my designs exhibit balanced strength from the forces previously mentioned (Earthquake, Wind, Water). Movement occurring within any structure is called compression and tension. In conventional houses, the imbalance of forces is compensated by building up the connections between beams and the thickness (More weight and cost) of the wall struts. Also, the number of struts and beams are increased and connections are made between the beams to dissipate sheering forces like in-line and tornadic winds. This makes the structure unnecessarily cumbersome to construct and many, many times heavier than necessary translating into higher cost, both in materials and labor.

In my designs, compression and tension are balanced. Compression and tension occur naturally at 90 degrees to each other. Envision a rope being pulled from end-to-end in tension. The natural compressive force on the rope occurs on the girth of the rope, tightening and lengthening the rope and decreasing its girth at 90 degrees to the direction of tension. Compression on a strut exerts force to shorten the strut and tension at 90 degrees from the pressure pushing together each end forces the girth of the strut to expand.

If these forces are balanced in a structure hence the ClarkeMagic. These forces will always be moving in any structure at an angle from the direction of greatest resistance (precession). In my designs, as the force increases, resistance to the force increases directly proportionately and in direct opposition to the direction of the force. Balancing compression and tension in my designs amplifies the strength of the structure independent of the strength of its materials. This amplification is not revealed in the strength of the materials but in the geometry of the design. The structure or physical model itself is the only way to predict its strength, not a set of performance standards based on rectilinear load bearing. This strength is not predicted by methods used in the UBC. This rates my designs high on the ClarkeMagic Quotient scale. Hence the Authorities who depend on the UBC to judge building practices are ill-equipped to inspect or qualify my designs.

3. Clear-span interior.

Because my designs use sound Engineering geometrical construction, it is possible to create structures of greater than 60 feet in diameter without any internal support columns.

4. All metal construction.

I have concentrated my designs on the use of commonly available metal stock. Concrete reinforcement can be used to increase the strength of the structure at the added cost of more weight, complexity, and expense.

5. Extremely good wind and ice load resistance.

Because of the previous descriptions, wind and snow loads are handled much better than any other structure for its price/floor space ratio.

6. Superior thermal insulation.

My designs make use of the dome within a dome concept. An outer and inner skin with airspace of 5 feet between shells provides very high quality insulation and can be easily maintained allowing the dome to be used in any terrestrial environment including arctic and mountain tops.

7. Superior window utilization (better view).

My designs allows windows to be placed in any configuration, allowing views in any direction from horizontal landscape (vertical window at ground level) to vertical sky (near horizontal window near the top of the dome). This also allows superior Solar heating options in extreme low temperature environments. The surface area of the structure and its skin elements is only 25 percent of the total structural-element surface. In tropical environments, the side away from the sun may be transparent to dissipate heat. In low temperature environments, the sun side openings can be transparent to let in the sun through the 9 feet in diameter, 5 feet air gap windows. My designs allow 50 percent of the sun side to be transparent. The low angle of the sun of low temperature environments in winter is accommodated with ease. Inexpensive technology for controlling the transparency of the domes 9 foot windows allows the window to be automatically switched from opaque to transparent in seconds.

8. 48 foot ceiling.

The top center of a 60 foot dome is 48 feet. If 2 lofts are spaced at 12 feet this gives a top loft ceiling of 24 feet.