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Connections (1978)

by James Burke

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1,3001714,878 (4.27)49
Connections is a brilliant examination of the ideas, inventions, and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological achievements of today. How did the popularity of underwear in the twelfth century lead to the invention of the printing press? How did the waterwheel evolve into the computer? How did the arrival of the cannon lead eventually to the development of movies? In this highly acclaimed and bestselling book, James Burke brilliantly examines the ideas, inventions, and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological advances of today. With dazzling insight, he untangles the pattern of interconnecting events: the accidents of time, circumstance, and place that gave rise to the major inventions of the world. Says Burke, "My purpose is to acquaint the reader with some of the forces that have caused change in the past, looking in particular at eight innovations--the computer, the production line, telecommunications, the airplane, the atomic bomb, plastics, the guided rocket, and television--which may be most influential in structuring our own futures....Each one of these is part of a family of similar devices, and is the result of a sequence of closely connected events extending from the ancient world until the present day. Each has enormous potential for humankind's benefit--or destruction." Based on a popular TV documentary series, Connections is a fascinating scientific detective story of the inventions that changed history--and the surprising links that connect them.… (more)
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» See also 49 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
A good sampler of human ingenuity and invention through random social connections. Entertaining and informative, and perhaps an incentive for many to read more deeply and widely. On the other hand, this random-evolution thesis seems to underplay the increasingly narrowed deep pursuits of 20th century science (and science funding by governments). It's intentionally intriguing and provocative, but not ideal for teaching history of science and technology, or how societies can acquire and apply knowledge to seek collective goals. ( )
  sfj2 | Apr 3, 2024 |
Like his TV programs, this book does show how everything is connected to everything else, and usually no in simple ways. ( )
  mykl-s | Aug 11, 2023 |
I loved this show when it first aired and wanted to try the book, it's just as good, Burke really makes some surprising connections between inventions. Recommended for either science of history buffs. ( )
  kevn57 | Dec 8, 2021 |
This book is the "companion" to a BBC TV series first broadcast in the '70s or early '80s. I found it interesting enough but intellectually weak. It purports to trace the history of development of various "modern" inventions, such as the jet engine, the computer and television, starting with the invention of agriculture. Where we arrive at the first problem; farming allowed the first division of labour into different, specialised occupations, which in turn, allowed the development of technology. Hunter-gatherers couldn't do this.

THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN CURTAILED IN PROTEST AT GOODREADS' CENSORSHIP POLICY

See the complete review here:

http://arbieroo.booklikes.com/post/897767/connections-james-burke
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
The series was excellent, and the companion book is no less so. By emphasizing the truly strange connections that led to various modern inventions, Burke makes it clear that the only way to halt progress in one field...would be to simply stop all progress. The opening and closing episodes (now chapters) may be eye-openers to many readers. ( )
  BruceCoulson | Dec 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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In the gathering darkness of a cold winter evening on 9 November 1965, just before sixteen minutes and eleven seconds past five o'clock, a small metal cup inside a black rectangular box began slowly to revolve.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Connections is a brilliant examination of the ideas, inventions, and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological achievements of today. How did the popularity of underwear in the twelfth century lead to the invention of the printing press? How did the waterwheel evolve into the computer? How did the arrival of the cannon lead eventually to the development of movies? In this highly acclaimed and bestselling book, James Burke brilliantly examines the ideas, inventions, and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological advances of today. With dazzling insight, he untangles the pattern of interconnecting events: the accidents of time, circumstance, and place that gave rise to the major inventions of the world. Says Burke, "My purpose is to acquaint the reader with some of the forces that have caused change in the past, looking in particular at eight innovations--the computer, the production line, telecommunications, the airplane, the atomic bomb, plastics, the guided rocket, and television--which may be most influential in structuring our own futures....Each one of these is part of a family of similar devices, and is the result of a sequence of closely connected events extending from the ancient world until the present day. Each has enormous potential for humankind's benefit--or destruction." Based on a popular TV documentary series, Connections is a fascinating scientific detective story of the inventions that changed history--and the surprising links that connect them.

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