Sustainability through Global Patterns of 60-fold Organization


Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens - TRANSCEND Media Service

Psycho-social implications of fullerenes for coherence, integrity and identity of a higher order.


25 Jul 2022 – Recent decades have been witness to a global focus on sustainable development, culminating in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations — whose achievement globally is increasingly questionable. More recently the world of chemistry has been surprised by the discovery of an unsuspected mode of organization of carbon atoms so fundamental to life — now the focus of intense research. The discoverers were awarded a Nobel Prize in 1996. all before any good use for them had been imagined. Although seemingly rare in nature, they have now been detected in outer space. The molecules they form are now termed fullerenes in memory of Buckminster Fuller since their spherical structure bears a strong resemblance to the geodesic domes for which his architecture is renowned — and hence the informal reference to “buckyballs” as an alternative.

The common configurations of carbon atoms are a familiar feature of organic chemistry and its many products on which society is now so dependent. The organization of those configurations has long been recognized as similar to the social organization of relationships, of groups, of teams, and of topics. Two-dimensional models and representations of such patterns are familiar in the explanation of psycho-social structure, mind maps and concept maps.

It would seem however that the spherical form of closed fullerenes has attracted no attention from a psycho-social perspective. The most common fullerene of 60 carbon atoms is termed C60. C60, or Buckminsterfullerene. This has a structure corresponding to that of the standard ball of association football (“soccer”) known the world over, namely that of the truncated icosahedron. A degree of familiarity has however been achieved through magnetic toys named as bucky balls, which have evoked controversy because of health warnings — in contrast to promotion of the health benefits of C60 oil.

The question in what follows is whether the pattern of spherical organization of C60 has psycho-social implications suggestive of higher orders of coherence. (Understanding Sustainable Dialogue: the Secret within Bucky’s Ball? 1996). Does the “stability” associated with some fullerenes correspond in any way to the “sustainability” so desperately sought?  In a period of social fragmentation and strategic incoherence, the question would necessarily be of relevance to fullerenes of greater complexity. Such a focus bears some comparison with the inspiration traditionally offered by the light-focusing diamond as the epitome of crystal organization (Implications of diamond faceting for enlightening dialogue, 2002; Insights from diamond as symbolic of the highest value, 2020).

The focus on higher order carbon configurations of fullerenes is potentially especially significant because of the role of carbon in molecules essential to life. The “behaviour” of carbon — and the patterns by which it may be configured — suggest that it may therefore constrain and enable the organization of learning and comprehension. Are there potential implications of such patterns for higher order organization with respect to the potential of neural learning, whether within the human brain or in its relevance to artificial intelligence?

In particular the concern here is whether there has long been an intuitive recognition of the coherence and identity offered by a group structure of plus-or-minus 60 people. This would tend to be evident in military organizations, possibly as a “company. It would also tend to be evident in educational institutions as a “class” — as celebrated over decades by alumni — or in a “community”. It might be evident as an academic “faculty” or a “school of thought” — or as the “department” of a corporation or other institution. In each case this is distinct from the coherence more readily recognized in groups and teams of plus-or-minus 7.

Somewhat ironically it is indeed military organization which helps to clarify any such exploration. Much is indeed made of the bonding and team spirit within a “squad” of plus-or-minus 7, for example. However a different degree of bonding and identity is evident at the next level of organization, possibly termed a “company”. Loyalty and identity take yet another form at the level of a “regiment”, a “battalion”, or an “army”.

With identity and mutual trust increasingly understood as vital to motivated collective action and its efficacy, the argument here is that such coherence might be fruitfully explored through the closed fullerenes. Degrees of coherence could be usefully represented by them in 3-dimensions — in contrast to loss of meaning associated with their representation in 2-dimensions. Any approximation to a 60-fold “global” configuration of identity might then “hold” multiple patterns of configurations of smaller groups (10×6, 12×5, 4×15, etc.).

Just as there is a “felt sense” of a viable size to smaller groups, is this also the case — more subtly — with respect to groups of increasingly larger size? The argument could also apply to groups of concepts in the organization of knowledge with its degrees of generality. Whilst there is some sense of the requisite variety of skills vital to a small group, far less evident is any analogous insight into the variety vital to the coherence and sustainability of much larger groups.

The question is of relevance to the organization of multinational “battlegroups” as in the case of Europe (Battlegroup of the European Union). It is presumably of potential relevance to the organization of intergovernmental agencies struggling with the many virtual wars of the global problematique (Review of the Range of Virtual Wars, 2005).

There is a degree of irony to the apparent  lack of attention to a C60 pattern of psycho-social organization, or to any fullerene of greater complexity. For example, the coherence of the secretive global configuration of military bases of the United States, designed to ensure global hegemony through full-spectrum dominance, could be usefully explored as taking the form of a C720 fullerene (List of US military bases).



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