By Melissa Locker
January 7, 2019

Jeff Bridges was honored at the 2019 Golden Globes with the Cecil B. DeMille Award, which recognizes lifetime achievement in film. Many people watching his acceptance speech, though, thought he was channeling his character in one particular film—The freewheeling, pot-loving Dude from The Big Lebowski.

In his 76th Golden Globe awards acceptance speech, Bridges managed to thank his family, friends, and the co-workers who helped him find success. He also squeezed in a reference to famed engineer, architect, and designer R. Buckminster Fuller and his geodesic domes, a shout-out that had audience members, including Alan Arkin, and Twitter commenters scratching their heads or laughing with glee or both at the same time.

“One guy, he had nothing to do with the movies, but I’ve taken a lot of direction from him. That’s Bucky Fuller. Bucky, he’s most famous for the geodesic dome, but he made a great observation about these oceangoing tankers,” Bridges said in his speech. He went on to explain about Fuller’s thoughts on “trim tabs” which are basically “a little rudder on [a] big rudder,” and they are like “how the individual is connected to society and how we affect society.” Got that? “I like to think of myself as a trim tab,” said Bridges. “All of us are trim tabs.”

As you try to parse Bridges’s speech (head over to the The Washington Post, for the full, delightful transcript) you may find yourself wondering what is this geodesic dome that this trim-tab guy is famous for creating? If you have ever seen the Epcot Center, you already know. According to the Stanford Libary’s exhibit on Fuller’s work, “a geodesic structure is a spherical structure which is constructed out of interconnecting lines rather than out of curved surfaces.” For example, a soccer ball is spherical in shape, but it is made up of linear hexagons and pentagons.

A geodesic dome, then, is a spherical shape built out of lines, with benefits that the Buckminster Fuller Institute explains as “lightweight, cost-effective, and easy to assemble, geodesic domes enclose more space without intrusive supporting columns than any other structure.” Famous examples include Epcot, but also the semi-circular jungle gyms on playgrounds, the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wa., and Fuller designed his first commercial dome for the Ford Motor Company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. According to the Buckminster Fuller Institute, today there are more than 300,000 geodesic domes around the world, ranging from homes (including some on Airbnb!) to radar stations in the Arctic to geodesic structures on playgrounds.

While geodesic domes are incredible feats of architecture and design, it doesn’t fully explain what they were doing in a speech at the 76th Golden Globes. The mention made people laugh, and Twitter was full of commentary on Bridges’s Dude-like speech:

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