My Original 12-strut Tensegrity Puzzle

When I was around eight years old in the late 1960s, I'd ordered a wooden stick "puzzle" from the Sears Roebuck catalog that had a hand-blown glass sphere in the middle. I now know that it was actually a 12-strut tensegrity sphere, but not knowing that at the time, it was the photograph in the catalog that was intriguing to me for its amazing pattern. The term tensegrity was not mentioned in the catalog, and there were no instructions on the secret of its patterned construction, nor notes on Buckminster Fuller, nor any other leads to further information whatsoever. Needless to say, it wasn't long before the sphere was just a pile of struts that I could no longer re-assemble. Then, in the 1980s, after studying the work of Fuller, the memory of this "puzzle" suddenly came back to me. "Could that puzzle from long ago have been a tensegrity structure?" I wondered. By some miracle, upon my next trip home, I found the unassembled pieces still stored in a cabinet. Within a few minutes, I'd reassembled the sphere with the glass ball inside. Now I was obsessed. I had to build more tensegrity spheres.

You can start building your very own tensegrity structure today! See George Hart's amazingly cool Soda Straw Tensegrity Structures Page.


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