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Thursday, April 16, 2015

A finite element analysis of the Monolithic Dome, An academic Thesis

This thesis, by Nanette South Clark, was presented to the Department of Civil Engineering at Idaho State University in December 2005. It features ten chapters, figures and tables discussing the history of thin-shell and Monolithic Domes, shell theory, finite element analysis, comparisons of shell theories and a buckling analysis.

Figure 9-14 from thesis: Controlling Buckling Eigenvalue λ = 141 for 101.5 ft. diameter hemisphere with 1' x 1' radial ribs 20' long at 30 degrees off 2' x 1' ring at top of dome around 12' diameter skylight. Two 1' x 1' transverse ribs are located at 10' and 20' from ring beam. Shell thickness = 5 in.

Four of the major influences in the history of thin-shell structures are discussed. David B. South and his brothers, Barry and Randy South, are presented as the inventors of the Monolithic Dome. Monolithic Domes are thin-shell structures constructed by applying polyurethane foam to the interior surface of an airform followed by attaching rebar to the foam. About three inches of shotcrete is then sprayed onto the interior surface. Basic stress resultants are developed from membrane theory as presented by David P. Billington. The finite element analysis process (FEA) is discussed as well as an introduction to NE/NASTRAN, a finite element analysis program. Comparisons of stress resultants between shell theory and FEA are made for a hemispherical dome, a truncated, hemispherical dome, and a non-hemispherical dome. Shell theory for domes, rings and wall interactions is introduced to facilitate a comparison between theory and FEA for the dome-ring-wall problem. Finally, a finite element buckling analysis is presented for a non-hemispherical, truncated dome with a tower. The current design practice utilizes shell theory. The finite element analysis process was found to be very accurate when compared with shell theory results and more powerful when complicated problems were presented.
Read A finite element analysis of the Monolithic Dome in its entirety.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Ted Talk featuring the magic of Fibonacci

If you missed it, Arthur Benjamin gave a fantastic Ted Talk, The magic of Fibonacci numbers.

Benjamin says that mathematics is not just for calculation and application. "Wouldn't it be great if every once in awhile, we did mathematics simply because it was fun or beautiful or because it excited the mind?" he asks.

Benjamin explores the Fibonacci sequence and many of the intricate and amazing patterns associated with it. He concludes by saying, "Mathematics is not just solving for x, it's also figuring out why."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Domes of Albion--Monolithic Villas in Paradise

Looking for an escape? Twenty Monolithic Dome villas nestled a tropical paradise on the island of Mauritius, offer the perfect getaway.

These villas--the Domes of Albion--boast stunning views, sandy white beaches, state-of-the-art architecture, green living and privacy. See more gorgeous photos and read the full article, "Luxury Tropical Living in the Domes of Albion," by Nanette South Clark on

Monday, April 6, 2015

Super Inventions at the White House Science Fair

Q. What does a multifunctional wheelchair accessory, next level password protection and a cardiac arrest predictor test have in common?

A. They are three of the coolest inventions in the White House's science fair this year according to "The coolest inventions in this year’s White House science fair," by Sonali Kohli on

March 23, 2015 was the fifth-annual science fair held at the White House. The theme this year was Diversity and Inclusion in STEM. In Becky Fried's article, "The Incredible Kid-Ingenuity on Display at the Fifth White House Science Fair," found on, she reports that more than 100 students from 30 states participated in the fair this year.

Fried quotes Pres. Obama's remarks to the participants, mentors and leaders:

These young scientists and engineers teach us … how to question assumptions; to wonder why something is the way it is, and how we can make it better. And, they remind us that there’s always something more to learn, and to try, and to discover, and to imagine--and that it’s never too early, or too late to create or discover something new.
Below is a video of some of the White House Science Fair highlights. I think the 6-year-old Super Hero girls stole the show.

Friday, April 3, 2015

This is one gorgeous Monolithic Dome home!

Have you seen the Whiteacre family's gorgeous Monolithic Dome home in College Station, Texas? If you haven't, there are some spectacular pictures in this article, "The Whiteacre Residence—An Elegant Paradise," by Nanette South Clark. Check it out!

The beauty of Whiteacre’s Monolithic Dome Home and the surrounding curvature of the landscape invite guests in for a unique and memorable visit. Most importantly, however, is the well thought out design that always welcomes the Whiteacre family home to their dome. (Photo courtesy of the Monolithic Dome Institute)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Purdue researchers show nanocrystals increase strength of concrete

The tensile strength of concrete can be increased by as much as 30% using, what they call, "cellulose nanocrystals," say researchers at Purdue University. These nanocrystals or CNCs could be refined from the byproducts of renewable resources.

The CNCs increase the hydration of cement particles in concrete mixtures. With greater hydration, more concrete can cure and the structure of the concrete is altered, thus strengthening it.

Read more at Purdue University News.

Cellulose nanocrystals as seen in an electron microscope.
(Purdue Life Sciences Microscopy Center)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Colossal Monolithic CSO Concert Hall in Ankara, Turkey

Downtown Ankara is the site for the Presidential Symphony Orchestra's gorgeous new elliptical concert hall. The Monolithic Dome Institute proved to be successful collaborators on this project. You can read the full story, "The new Ankara CSO Concert Hall—a modern marvel surrounded by Turkish History," by Nanette South Clark, on

As of October 2014, you can see great progress has been made on the steel and glass intermediate section of this iconic building. (Martha Jean Hoehn)

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