[Edu-sig] Project HexaPent

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Thu Jul 20 21:41:33 CEST 2006

I think it's important that the civilian open source community
establish beach heads in as many pioneering areas as we dare to boldly
go, otherwise we surrender to that old urban legend:  that the
military does all the real R&D while civilians just get the "spin

That may have been true in Da Vinci's day (depends on whether we label
him civilian), but today the leading edge is so often right out in the
open, where everyone can see and document for themselves, that
civilians have what it takes to do their own innovating, minus this
indirect pass through a killingry chapter (i.e. make it kill first,
then commercialize it (often a very inefficient way to go)).

Along these lines, I've opted out of some too-stupid-for-words
military projects, but retain access to the civilian aspects.  I'm
speaking of Fuller's Geoscope in particular, now enhanced with new
thinking from Glenn Stockton's group (of which I'm a member), Patrick
Barton and others (see wwwanderers.org & isepp.org -- the former
especially in need of some maintenance).

I'm finding the new wxPython book very readable and a new romance with
that GUI development tool has commenced on my end.  I've downloaded
the latest beta of Python 2.5, and the corresponding wx, and am happy
as a clam (are clams really happy?), relearning some of these ropes,
plus discovering new ones.

One feature of wx that most excites me is this ability to have
non-rectangular top windows.  Like the music industry, I don't want
all my most important tools forced into 90 degree motifs.  In
particular, our HexaPent Matrix Disply (HMD) should be hexagonal in
conception, with obvious click points for N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW
(going clockwise).  What's on your display to begin with is your "home
hexagon" (a region of the earth's surface).  When you click in any of
these directions, you go to a neighboring hexagon (through points west
and east, across edges in the six other directions, com sa:

oooo SAT sig

     _ _ _
   /         \
 /             \
 \   x        /
   \ _ _ _ /



   x = self


The hand-held units will be somewhat different, more like iPods in
some respects, but the hexagonal motif is the same.

The link to Fuller's Geoscope:  the hexapent design, dual to an
omnitriangulated geodesic, characteristic of turtle shells and
fullerene, other natural geometries (not patentable); the use of same
of a non-Mercator view of the earth; individual tilings, consisting of
irregular (but many almost regular) hexagons and 12 pentagons
(radially at the vertices of an original anchoring icosahedron and/or
pentagonal dodecahedron).

Here's an excerpt of a recent email to Glenn:

The problem with the XY lat/long approach is it produces singularities
at the poles, with the fictitiously square regions mostly occuring in
places like Kansas (very far from Oz).  But in reality, none of those
XY squares are really square, because the Earth isn't really a plane,
but a ball.  Those squares were approximations.  When we go from
spherical to flat displays, our mathematics has to accomodate these
approximations by means of various tradeoffs and compromises (the
so-called "cartographic projections").

Another solution to the lat/long problem is to complement it with a
more spherically sophisticated grid patterns, the hexapent being a
good example, which is where the Global Matrix comes in.


Since Fuller's day, the hardware for projecting in the round has come
a long way, coming from the planetarium tradition.  Joe Clinton, an
early student of Fuller's, has made a distinguished name for himself
in this arena.

The geoscope idea itself has never been lost.

Thanks to a convergence of technology and data, the applications for
real time spherical and flat screen monitoring have never been
greater.  We're in a time of accelerating interest in this whole field
of GIS/GPS and global data displays.  Which is where the hexapent
comes in, as an alternative to lat/long or XY, as a potentially more
spherically adept geometry.  It's users will have a strategic
advantage over those clinging to the old ways.

It's going to take me awhile to get up to speed on wx with all this,
but in making this an open source project, I'm at least saving a stub
on which others might build (without waiting for me if necessary,
although you don't get far with a reputation for rip off artist, even
when the source is open (something many gnubees fail to sufficiently
appreciate (so we cut them some slack))).

More info:

If any of your OSCON people want to visit the Linus Pauling House on
Hawthorne, and/or have beers in my neighborhood, give me a holler.
The only OSCON access I've purchased to date is an Exhibit Hall pass,
and given the nearness of the deadline, that's probably going to be it
for this year.


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