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USES OF TRIANGLES
(START THE LECTURE BY SHUFFLING A DECK OF CARDS)
Have you ever tried to build a “house of cards”? (START BUILDING THE TRADITIONAL HOUSE OF CARDS IN A TRIANGULAR FORM) It is easy to see that this house would be built out of equilateral triangles because all of the sides are the same size. But there is another kind of “house of cards” (TRY TO BUILD THE RECTANGULAR VERSION) that is not as easy to build. Why is that? Because the cards placed in triangular form give each other support. They balance in place because of the friction they exchange at points of contact. If fact, the use of a triangle in building structures has created the strongest form of construction, the geodesic dome.
In the 1940’s, Buckminster Fuller made revolutionary contributions to the use of the Geodesic Dome in tent building. The dome is strong because it distributes any building stress over the whole structure. It is the most efficient shape because it gives the most interior space (volume) for the amount of structure (surface area). It can withstand the highest wind speeds because of its rounded surface which lets air flow over it without creating as much friction as a flat structured building does. In fact, one of the most valuable characteristics of the geodesic dome is that it can remain standing in hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes when traditional houses are demolished.
Have you heard of an event called Burning Man? It is held in the Black Rock Desert of Arizona. It is a week long event of bonding at the end of which a huge bon-fire is created. While many of the participants use traditionally constructed tents, the use of handmade cardboard geodesic dome living structures is gaining in popularity. It takes three individuals two to three hours to construct a dome that has a twelve-foot diameter. The collaborative experience of building their living structure as well as the burning of the structure on the bon-fire deepens the bonding experience.
The triangle can even be found in nature. A pineapple has a peel that is covered in hexagons that can be divided into triangles, as can some turtle shells. Pine cones have triangular scales and even some bones are triangular in shape. Everything from snowflakes to diamonds is built upon the shape of the triangle. What other triangles have you seen today?
Triangles can be used to create the strongest buildings, they are part of nature and have become integrated into the fabric of our society. They are represented in flower petals and butterfly wings. Sea scallops have triangular shaped shells and turtle shells are made of hexagonal shapes that make them stronger.