James Burke seduced me into studying history by making me think I was learning about science.  The original episodes of Connections have generous  heaps of just plain history thrown in, but with a cynical view of western civilization for humour.  Quite often it is dark humour, and often you will groan as "Galvani galvanized his audience" or someone "took to it with all the gay abandon of an achoholic in a brewery" is used for the sixth time. Some of Burke's phrases are charming used once but a bit strained when used again and again, such as "a mere bagatel."

However, we can easily forgive Burke because of his engaging enthusiasm for his work.  And most viewers would not notice the re-used phrases, but having either viewed or listened to the original Connections at least 25 times - it really is good commuting material - well I have practically memorized the whole lot.

Burke loves to be dramatic. He tells about the development of the airplane as the camera pulls back to reveal he is standing on a Concorde.  He travels to hundreds of locations in dozens of countries and uses a heap of BBC stock footage.   Here follows a summary of the flow of each episode.


I wrote many of the summaries on Wikipedia, so they are very similar to these summaries.

Connections - an alternative view of change by James Burke

Original Series

1 - The Trigger Effect 5 - The Wheel of Fortune 9 - Countdown
2 - Death in the Morning 6 - Thunder in the Skies 10 - Yesterday, Tomorrow and You
3 - Distant Voices 7 - The Long Chain
4 - Faith in Numbers 8 - Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Connections Summaries


Revolutions Something for Nothing High Time The Big Spin Sign Here
Sentimental Journey Echoes of the Past Deja Vu Hot Pickle Better Than the Real Thing
Getting It Together Photo Finish New Harmony Making Waves Flexible Response
Whodunit? Separate Ways Bright Ideas One Word Routes

Connections - Episode 1 - "The Trigger Effect"

Both the beginning and the end of the story are here. The end is our present dependence on complex technological networks illustrated by the NYC power blackouts. Life came almost to a standstill: support systems taken for granted failed. How did we become so helpless? Technology originated with the plow and agriculture. Each invention demands its own follow-up: once started, it is hard to stop. This segment ends in Kuwait, where society has leapt from ancient Egypt to the technology of today in 30 years.   

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.

The plow, buildings, writing, taxation and astronomy interdependently all connect to bring us the story of BBC's James Burke, of man's dependence on a complex technology; each invention demanding a follow-up; each intellectual and economic advance creating a point of no return. Burke traces the incredible chain of events, the culmination to date, of which allowed Kuwait to make a single leap from ancient Egypt into a modern society in one generation.

In Upper Egypt, host James Burke explains how plowing, building, writing, taxation, and astronomy began and how they became interdependent. Man's present dependence on complex technological networks is illustrated with a reconstruction of the New York City power blackout of 1965. The program ends in Kuwait, the nation which has moved from the technology of ancient Egypt to that of the modern world in a single generation.

how you are dependent on technology and do not think that much about it

  • network of technology
  • elevators
  • brakes on cars

New York City - technology island

the black out in New England, particularly New York

suppose the power were gone permanently

  • can you survive without technology
  • can you find a farm
  • can you defend the farm
  • can you find what to eat
  • can you plant crops
  • you need an old fashioned plow

ancient people had problem of climate change to hot & arid around Nile

  • used plow to feed the people
  • beginning of civilization
  • measurement to return land to farmer after annual floods
  • strong central government
  • pyramids

Saudi Arabia and the explosive infusion of technology without understanding it

each invention acts as a trigger for change which produces a new invention

each invention does not come out of thin air - the bits and pieces that are already there come together in the right way

why does it begin 2600 years ago with a touchstone?

Connections - Episode 2 - "Death in the Morning"

Connect the year 2500 years ago, when the touch stone became a way of determining the purity of gold with the standardization of metals; Alexander the Great's nautical library, and the discovery of the magnet and subsequently, the compass. This series of discoveries and inventions gave rise to worldwide commerce. Ships could sail at night and on cloudy days. Magnetism led to the discovery of electricity, radar and the awesome release of atomic energy.

Traces the connection between standardization of precious metals used in coins, the great commercial center and library built by Alexander the Great, development of the compass, and creation of the atomic bomb.

  1. touchstone tells you that you can trust gold
  2. accept metal and hence coins
  3. trade stimulated
  4. Alexander the Great and trade center
  5. library of Alexandria
  6. sailors coming in and out of Alexandria
  7. navigation, maps, stars
  8. square sails
  9. 700 AD - pirates
  10. latine sail - more trade
  11. stern post rudder
  12. 1453 Turks take over Constantinople (heavy cost to get goods through territory)
  13. porta-land charts
  14. magnetic compass
  15. why doesn't compass point true north
  16. magnetism/metals
  17. sparks, static electricity
  18. vacuum
  19. weather
  20. high altitude balloons
  21. Scottish highland weather study
  22. Ben Nevis
  23. a "glory"
  24. cloud chamber
  25. lightning
  26. radio/atmospheric interaction
  27. radar
  28. nuclear reactors/bombs

Connections - Episode 3 - "Distant Voices"

The introduction of the saddle stirrup at the Battle of Hastings by the Normans, triggered a whole series of innovations in the science of warfare; the armor, the shield, the very concept of knighthood. The cannon and a silver strike, spawned the serendipities of Galileo. The vacuum pump and air pressure were discovered in Galileo's attempt to extract silver from deep mines. Widespread experiments ultimately led to the discovery of magnetism, electricity, radio, radar and promise to help unravel the mysteries of deep space communications.

Traces the connection between medieval advances in the science of warfare, the discovery of large silver deposits in Czechoslovakia, the discovery of natural laws, and the invention of modern telecommunications.

  1. nuclear bomb
  2. Battle of Hastings
  3. stirrup
  4. family name
  5. identifying marks
  6. Agincourt - Welch long bow
  7. plow
  8. crop rotation
  9. gun powder
  10. bell making
  11. bombard
  12. silver mines
  13. tallers
  14. water wheels
  15. blast furnace
  16. metal mining
  17. sump pumps
  18. vacuum study
  19. barometer
  20. electrical charges
  21. Galvani
  22. Volta
  23. battery
  24. electro-magnetism
  25. telephone
  26. inter-stellar communication

Connections - Episode 4 - "Faith in Numbers"

The organizations of systems, Burke says, in economics mechanics and electronics is examined with each interrelation to the Roman Empire, the monastery, the loom and tabulations to global communications. The rise of commercialism followed the Crusades; the plague Black Death, set the state for the invention of the printing press. How?

Shows how such inventions as the water mill, carillon, jacquard loom, and a global communications network were influenced by each other and by logic, genius, chance, and unforeseen events. Also deals with the inventions and events which gave rise to the printing press.

James Burke explains the relationship between hot air balloons and laughing gas, and goes on to surgery, hydraulic water gardens, hydraulic rams, tunneling through the Alps, the Orient Express, nitroglycerin, heart attacks & headaches, aspirin, carbolic acid, disinfectant, Mabach-Gottlieb Daimler-Mercedes, carburetors, and helicopters.
  1. GPS satellite navigation
  2. fall of Roman Empire
  3. water power
  4. mills, trip hammers, pumps
  5. Midieval Industrial Revolution
  6. Cistertian Monasteries
  7. wool production
  8. weaving loom
  9. spinning wheel
  10. cloth marketing
  11. silk/international trade
  12. investment capital agreements
  13. plague
  14. clothes boom
  15. paper
  16. printing
  17. book boom
  18. mechanical devices
  19. jacquard loom
  20. US immigration
  21. census
  22. punched card
  23. computers

Connections - Episode 5 - "The Wheel of Fortune"

The Computer Age rested on discoveries 3000 years earlier by priests and astronomers who studied the moon to determine planting and harvest time. Discovery of a treasure trove of ancient Greek manuscripts led to a bursting spirit of inquiry. More precision devices were needed for navigation which prompted the development of the pendulum clock, the telescope, forged steel and the idea of interchangeable parts. Interchangeable parts! - the basis for modern industry.

Traces the connection between astrology, ancient Greek medical manuscripts, the need for precise measuring devices, and the invention of such things as the telescope, forged steel, and interchangeable machine parts.

  1. computers
  2. predicting astronomical events
  3. using instruments for astronomy
  4. discovery of planets
  5. geocentric universe
  6. books of ancient Greek knowledge
  7. struggle of church against knowledge and discovery
  8. problem of getting prayer at right time in the middle of the night
  9. water alarm clock
  10. verge and folliet
  11. time controls work force
  12. springs for portable clocks - Nuremberg egg
  13. clock accuracy challenges geocentric universe
  14. telescope
  15. Jupiter has moons
  16. Galileo also discovered pendulum clock
  17. Huygens did astronomy and navigation with clock
  18. sailors needed a clock as good as pendulum to navigate
  19. need for good steel for springs for clocks
  20. coke fired glass making furnaces
  21. Huntsman's steel
  22. marking sextants accurately
  23. precision machining
  24. block and tackle making
  25. factories and assembly lines
  26. interchangeability
  27. time motion study
  28. production line system for democratized possessions


Connections - Episode 6 - "Thunder in the Skies"

A colder climate in the 13th century froze Greenland solid, produced icebergs in the north Atlantic; this situation in the next seven centuries changed the course of history. Buildings were erected for a colder climate; as wood became scarce, new sources of energy were necessary. The Industrial Revolution spurred advances in the steam engine and navigation, which in-turn transformed the face of the country. A pause in history later, the gasoline engine unveiled the heavens to humans.

Details many of the changes in building construction and energy usage which occurred when the climate of Europe changed dramatically in the 13th century. He shows how the scarcity of firewood contributed to the invention of the steam engine, which was the predecessor of gasoline-powered engines used today.

  1. production line
  2. tremendous variety
  3. energy from single source - earth, electricity grid,
  4. what if the cold comes as it did before
  5. manor houses got chimneys
  6. Hardwick hall
  7. buttons, knitting, tapestries
  8. plaster walls
  9. intellectual activity enabled
  10. privacy
  11. indoor plumbing
  12. glass windows
  13. cutting down forests to make glass
  14. save the forests for the Navy
  15. glassmakers sent to America
  16. bronze cannon
  17. wool market need brass combs
  18. coal used to make glass frees coke for brass
  19. mines, flooding in mines
  20. brewer's boiler
  21. steam engine water pump
  22. Newcombman's engine
  23. boring cannons so they don't blow up
  24. industrial age
  25. genetic mixing by transportation
  26. Joseph Priestly discovers CO2 in brewer's vat
  27. soda water
  28. sparks for gas investigation
  29. marsh gases
  30. capacitor
  31. glass spark gun
  32. malaria investigation
  33. whale oil getting scarce
  34. petroleum discovery
  35. Daemler & Mabach internal combustion engine
  36. add spark plug
  37. scent sprayer becomes carburetor
  38. Wilhelm Kress's failed sea plane
  39. jet plane

Connections - Episode 7 - "The Long Chain"

The British in the 1600's vied for sea supremacy, induced America to produce pitch to protect their ship's hulls. In 1776, the British sought other sources, especially coal tar. Subsequent experiments with coal tar yielded the gas light lamps, waterproof garments and brilliant dyes. In 1939, the first miracle plastic nylon was introduced. From coal tar! A whole plastic phenomena.

Traces the connection between mercantile competition between the British and Dutch in the 17th century, the development of a coal-tar pitch to protect ship hulls, and the creation of waterproofed clothing, gaslight lamps, and nylon.

  1. 747 jet air freighter
  2. compare to Flying Dutchman
  3. shipping
  4. insurance Lloyd's of London
  5. pitch for ship bottoms
  6. cotton factories
  7. coal gas lighting
  8. copper boat bottoms
  9. ammonia
  10. naphtha
  11. rubberized raincoats
  12. nutmegs/spices
  13. plantation building
  14. malaria
  15. quinine water
  16. gin and tonic
  17. artificial quinine
  18. artificial dye
  19. synthetic fertilizer
  20. acetylene lamps
  21. calcium carbide
  22. artificial fertilizer (again)
  23. German Navy
  24. plastics

Connections - Episode 8 - "Eat, Drink, and Be Merry"

The introduction of the pike, a 14th century pointed weapon, led to the development of an infantry and subsequently to the landing on the moon. The infantry need food. Food spoiled. Bottles were sterilized. The British tried cans. Canned food spoiled. Gas could be stored in cans or thermos flasks, a device popular with polar explorers, brides and gas was "hot-stuff". It propelled rockets! - because a pike was invented.

Traces the connection between military arms used during the time of Charles the Bold, canning, refrigeration, and modern space rockets.

  1. plastic
  2. credit
  3. Dukes of Burgundy
  4. country run on credit
  5. Swiss pikes
  6. Apomist gun
  7. musket
  8. bayonette, paper cartridge
  9. bottled food
  10. canned food
  11. paper money
  12. automatic paper mill
  13. compressed air cycle air conditioning
  14. frozen beef
  15. brewing German lager beer at cold temperatures in summer
  16. ammonia cycle refrigerator
  17. liquefying gases for limelight, welding
  18. holding liquid hydrogen in a Dewar
  19. V2
  20. Saturn V rocket to the moon

Connections - Episode 9 - "Countdown"

A carbon arc, a spoked-wheel, consecutive images and a reflector with billiard ball coating, combined with the mind of curious Thomas Edison and motion pictures emerge. George Eastman and slightly exploded gun cotton made celluloid to record pictures. Combine Eastman's film and Edison's motion pictures and a motion picture film of near permanence is the resultant product; now television.

Traces the discoveries and inventions which gave rise to the motion picture. Poses the question of whether we have become trapped by our own technology due to the power of the mass media.

  1. Saturn V
  2. cannon
  3. fortresses
  4. aiming the the guns with theodolites
  5. Henry VIII divorce
  6. surveying and mapping land confiscated from Church
  7. limelight helps surveying
  8. gun cotton
  9. artificial ivory for billiard balls from celluloid
  10. projector using limelight
  11. horse bet - motion pictures
  12. signals for railways using Morse telegraph
  13. Edison makes a lightbulb feasible
  14. Edison gets with Eastman to make motion picture film kinetiscope
  15. sound on film through photocells
  16. television
  17. accelerated change through television

Connections - Episode  10 - "Yesterday, Tomorrow, and You"

Why did we do it this way? Why did it happen to me? Burke asks, can the man on the street relate to the complexities around him? Can he maintain control of his destiny? How about the availability of information? Is man trapped in his complexities?

Presents essential moments from the previous programs in the series in order to illustrate common factors that make for change at different times and in different places. Also looks at the extent to which people are becoming increasingly incapable of understanding complex changes in the modern world. Points out a need for a radical change in the availability and use of information in the future.

  1. change accelerates
  2. the plow
  3. craftsman
  4. civilization
  5. irrigation
  6. pottery and writing
  7. mathematics
  8. floods - calendar
  9. empires
  10. modern world where change happens so rapidly you can't keep up
  11. several choices, but in the end it only makes sense to continue on


Connections2 - Episode 1 - "Revolutions"

Explores the work of inventor, James Watt and his affect on the industrial revolution, which is then linked to the invention of steam power, paper copiers, matches, gas lighting, the telephone, television, oscilloscope, the Apollo Space flight, the discovery of corundum and its role in the development of radiography and the discovery of DNA and genetic engineering.
What do all these things have in common- 3 grandfathers' lifetimes, 2 revolutions, 1750 Cornwall tin mines, water in mines, pumps, steam engines, Watt's copier, carbon paper, matches, phosphorous fertilizer, trains and gene pool mixing, traveling salesman, 24 hour production, educated women, telephone, high rise building, Damascus's swords, steel, diamond, carborundum, graphite, x-ray crystalography, DNA and gene therapy? You will learn these things in the first episode of Connections², "Revolutions."

  1. 3 grandfathers' lifetimes
  2. 2 revolutions
  3. 1750 Cornwall tin mines
  4. water in mines  (see orginal episode 3:19-21)
  5. pumps
  6. steam engines  (see orginal episode 6:21)
  7. Watt's copier
  8. carbon paper
  9. matches
  10. phosphorous fertilizer
  11. trains and gene pool mixing  (see orginal episode 6:25)
  12. traveling salesman
  13. 24 hour production
  14. educated women
  15. telephone
  16. high rise building
  17. Damascus's swords
  18. steel
  19. diamond
  20. carborundum
  21. graphite
  22. x-ray crystalography
  23. DNA
  24. gene therapy

Connections2 - Episode 2 - "Sentimental Journeys"

Explores inventions and discoveries which contributed to the development of map making. Topics included are Sigmund Freud, shock treatment therapy, prisons, color dyes, phrenology, early theories of criminal behavior, the discovery of brain cells, chemotherapy, spectroscopy, the bunsen burner, telescopes and surveying.
What do these have in common - Freud, lifestyle crisis, electric shock therapy, hypno-therapy, magnetism, frenology, penalogy, physiology, synthetic dyes, the Bunsen burner, absorption, Fraunhoffer lines, astronomical telescopes, chromatic aberrations, and surveying? Follow James Burke on the trail of discovering the connection between these and others in "Sentimental Journeys."
  1. Freud
  2. lifestyle crisis
  3. electric shock therapy
  4. hypno-therapy
  5. magnetism
  6. frenology
  7. penalogy
     8. physiology
     9. synthetic dyes
   10. Bunsen burner
   11. absorption
   12. Fraunhoffer lines
   13. astronomical telescopes
   14. chromatic aberrations
  15.  surveying

Connections2 - Episode 3 - "Getting It Together"

Examines the various facets of a SWAT team mission ranging from artillery used to air rescue, from aspirin to anesthesia to computers, and the role various inventions and industries played in the development of technologies used by emergency response teams.
James Burke explains the relationship between hot air balloons and laughing gas, and goes on to surgery, hydraulic water gardens, hydraulic rams, tunneling through the Alps, the Orient Express, nitroglycerin, heart attacks & headaches, aspirin, carbolic acid, disinfectant, Mabach-Gottlieb Daimler-Mercedes, carburetors, and helicopters.
  1. hot air balloons (see original episode 2:20)
  2. laughing gas
  3. surgery
  4. hydraulic water gardens
  5. hydraulic ram
  6. tunneling the Alps
  7. Orient Express
  8. nitroglycerin
  9. heart attacks & headaches
  10. aspirin
  11. carbolic acid  (see original episode 6:35-37)
  12. disinfectant
  13. Mabach-Gottlieb Daimler-Mercedes  (see orginal episode 6:35-38)
  14. carburetor
  15. helicopter

Connections2 - Episode 4 - "Whodunit?"

Explores discoveries which led ultimately to the use of fingerprinting to solve criminal cases. Along the way we examine the role of copper in canon production, Emperor Charles V's debts, the Spanish Armada's battle with England, the history of glassmaking, mirrors, the sextant used for navigation and map making, the theories of Charles Darwin, and the founder of eugenics, Francis Galton, upon which Hitler based his political theories.
This episode starts with a billiard ball and ends with a billiard ball. Along the way, Burke examines Georgius Agricola's De Re Metallica, how mining supported war, the role of money, the Spanish Armada, large ships, problems posed by a wood shortage, glass making, coal, plate glass, mirrors, the sextant, barometers the discovery of granite and seashells in the mountains, which enabled a new view of the age of the earth, and Darwin's theory of evolution, Francis Galton's Eugenics, and the forensic use of fingerprints.
  1. snooker - billiard ball
  2. George Agricola's De Re Metallica
  3. mining supported war  (see original episode 3:12)
  4. money to support
  5. Spanish Armada
  6. large ships
  7. lack of wood  (see original episode 5:20)
  8. impact on glass
  9. coal
  10. plate glass
  11. mirrors
  12. James Hadley's sextant  (see original episode 5:22)
  13. barometers - high mountain
  14. granite and seashells in the mountain tops
  15. earth age
  16. Darwin's evolution theory
  17. Francis Galton's Eugenics
  18. fingerprints
  19. billiard ball

Connections2 - Episode 5 - "Something for Nothing"

This episode begins with the development of the barometer after the discovery of vacuum space, then moves onto weather forecasting, a Cholera epidemic in England, sewage problems, the development of indoor plumbing, the development of compressed air, air brakes, power generators, electricity and the gyroscope.
How do shuttle landings start with the vacuum which was forbidden by the Church? Burke takes us on an adventure with barometers, weather forcasting, muddy and blacktop roads, rain runoff, sewage, a cholera epidemic, hygiene, plumbing, ceramics, vacuum pumps, compressed air drills, tunnels in the Alps, train air brakes, Tesla hydroelectric power, electric motor, Galvani's muscle-electricity connection, Volta's battery, and gyroscopes.
  1. shuttle landings
  2. vacuum forbidden by Church
  3. barometer  (see original episode 3:18-20)
  4. weather forcasting (see original episode 3:18-20)
  5. muddy roads - rain
  6. blacktop roads - rain runoff
  7. sewage
  8. cholera epidemic
  9. hygiene
  10. plumbing
  11. ceramics (back to 17th century)
  12. vacuum pump
  13. compressed air drills tunnel Alps
  14. train air brakes
  15. Tesla hydroelectric power
  16. electric motor
  17. Galvani muscle-electricity connection (see original episode 3:20-23)
  18. Volta's battery
  19. gyroscope
  20. shuttle landing

Connections2 - Episode 6 - "Echoes of the Past"

This episode ponders the secrets of the universe by making connections between the Japanese tea ceremony, porcelain, Florentine architecture, Freemasons, secret codes used in warfare, radio-telephones, and radio astronomy.
The past in this case starts with the tea in Dutch-ruled India, examines the Japanese tea ceremony, Sen Buddhism, porcelain, the agriculture of Florence, Delftware, Wedgewood, Free Masons, secret codes, radio-telephones, the cosmic background radiation and finally radio-astronomy, which listens to "Echos of the Past."
  1. tea in Dutch India
  2. Japanese tea ceremony
  3. Zen Buddhist
  4. porcelain
  5. Florentine architecture
  6. Delftware (Netherlands)
  7. Wedgwood pottery
  8. Freemasons
  9. secret codes
  10. radio-telephones
  11. extra terrestrial static
  12. radio astronomy

Connections2 - Episode 7 - "Photo Finish"

This episode uses the photographs to be taken of the Le Mans race winner as a backdrop to explore the interconnections between the development of photography, aerodynamics, celluloid, relativity, sound motion pictures, the timber industry, gaslight, creosote, the rubber industry, zeplins, and gasoline engines.
Another series of discoveries examined by Burke which include Eastman's film Kodak Brownie, the disappearing elephant scare of 1867, billiard balls, celluloid as a substitute for ivory, false teeth that explode, gun cotton, double shot sound of a bullet, Mach's shock wave, aerodynamics, nuclear bombs, Einstein's relativity, Einstein's selenium, movie talkies, the vacuum tube amplifier, radio, railroad's use of wood, coal tar, gas lights, creosote, rubber, the Zeplin, the automobile and finally how Adeline vulcanizes tires.
  1. Eastman's film Kodak Brownie
  2. disappearing elephant scare of 1867
  3. billiard balls  (see orginal episode 9:8-9)
  4. celluloid substitute for ivory
  5. false teeth that explode
  6. gun cotton
  7. double shot sound of bullet
  8. Mach's shock wave
  9. aerodynamics
  10. nuclear bomb
  11. relativity
      12.  Einstein selenium   (see orginal episode 9:15)
      13.  movie talkies
      14.  vacuum tube amplifier
      15.  radio
      16.  railroad wood use  (see orginal episode 7:7-10)
      17.  coal tar
      18.  gas light
      19.  creosote
      20.  rubber, Zeplin
      21.  automobile
      22.  adeline vulcanizes tires

Connections2 - Episode 8 - "Separate Ways"

This episode follows two trails that begin with the split over slavery in the 18th century and come together again in the technology which resulted in the development of atomic weapons. Our route features the development of wire, canned foods, cadmium, the minting of coins, mass spectronomy and finally the Manhattan Project.
Burke shows how to get from sugar to atomic weapons by two totally independent paths. The first involves African Slaves, Abolitionist Societies, Samson Lloyd, wire, suspension bridges, galvanized wire, settlement of the wild West, barbed wire, canned corn, and cadmium. The second path involves sweet tea, rum, a double boiler, the steam engine, Balton, English currency, the pantograph, electroplating and cathode ray tubes.

18th Century Sugar Market in England

  1. African Slaves
  2. Abolitionist Society
  3. Samson Lloyd
  4. wire
  5. suspension bridges
  6. galvanized wire
  7. wild West settlement
  8. barbed wire
  9. canned corn
  10. cadmium

  1. sweet tea
  2. end of slavery
  3. Rum
  4. double boiler
  5. steam engine
  6. Balton
  7. English currency
  8. pantograph
  9. electroplating
  10. CRT's

atomic weapons

Connections2 - Episode 9 - "High Time"

This episode examines the circuitous connection between the development of polyethylene and Big Ben, the clock atop the English House of Commons. Also explored are the development of radar, fatty acids, soap, color dyes, impressionist paintings, tapestries, lackerwork, the Dutch-East India Company, whaling, printing and the development of the telescope.
The connection between polyethylene and Big Ben is a few degrees of separation, so let's recount them: polyethylene, radar, soap, artificial dyes, color perception, tapestries, far East goods, fake lacquer furniture, search for shorter route to Japan, Hudson in Greenland, the discovery of plentiful whales, printing the Bible, Mercator map, Martin Luther's protest, star tables, a flattened earth, George Graham's clock which of course leads to Big Ben.
  1. plastic - polythene
  2. radar
  3. soap
  4. dyes
  5. color perception
  6. tapestry
  7. far east goods
  8. fake lacquer furniture
  9. search for shorter route
      10.  Hudson in Greenland
      11.  discovery of plentiful whales
      12.  printing the Bible
      13.  Mercator map
      14.  Martin Luther's protest
      15.  star tables
      16.  flattened earth
      17.  George Graham's clock
      18.  Big Ben

Connections2 - Episode 10 - "Déjà Vu"

In this episode Burke examines how history repeats itself by exploring links between Pizzaro and his conquest of the Incas, stock markets in Belgium, pirates, the development of army drill, the work of geographer, Alexander Humboldt, and the philosophy undergirding Nazism.
James Burkes provides evidence that history does repeat itself by examining the likes of black and white movies, Conquistadors, Peruvian Incas, small pox, settlements that look like Spain's cities, the gold abundance ends up in Belgium, Antwerpe, colony exploitation, the practice of buried treasure to avoid pirates, Port Royal's pirates, earthquakes, the College of William and Mary, military discipline, Alexander Humboldt's observation on the environment, Ratzal's superstate Lehbensraun, and Haushoffer's world domination.
  1. black and white movies
  2. Conquistadors
  3. Puruvian Incas
  4. small pox
  5. settlements that look like Spain
  6. gold abundance ends up in Belgium
  7. Antwerpe
  8. colony exploitation
        9.  buried treasure to avoid pirates
      10.  Port Royal's pirates
      11.  earthquake
      12.  William and Mary College
      13.  military discipline
      14.  Humboldt's observation on environment
      15.  Ratzal's superstate Lehbensraun
      16.  Haushoffer's world domination

Connections2 - Episode 11 - "New Harmony"


Microscopic bugs inspired the novel "Frankenstein" which aided the birth of Socialism.
A dream of utopia is followed from microchips to Singapore, from the transistor to its most important element, germanium, to Ming Vases and cobalt fakes, which contribute to the blue in blue tiles used in special Islamic places, and Mosaics in Byzantium, the donation of Constantine, Portuguese navigation by stars, the "discovery" of Brazil, Holland's tolerance, diamond merchants, optics, microscopes, beasts of science, Frankenstein's monster, and finally New Harmony.
  1. dream of utopia
  2. microchip
  3. Singapore
  4. transistor
  5. germanium
  6. Ming Vase
  7. colbalt fakes
  8. blue tiles in special Islamic places
  9. Mosaics in Byzantium
  10. the donation of Constantine
      11. Portugese navigation by stars
      12.  discovery of Brazil
      13.  Holland's tolerance
      14.  diamond merchants
      15.  optics
      16.  microscope
      17.  beasts of science
      18.  Frankenstein
      19.  New Harmony

Connections2 - Episode 12 - "Hot Pickle"


The connections between a cup of tea, opium dens, the London Zoo and a switch that releases bombs.
Burke starts out in a spice market in Istanbul where you can find hot pickle, recounts the retaking of Istanbul by the Turks in 1453, follows the trail of pepper and tea and opium, and the exploitation of addicts, moves to the jungles of Java, then to zoos, the use of canaries as carbon monoxide detectors, how George Stephenson used his consolation prize to build a locomotive, which led to the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack. Next we visit a sea island off the coast of South Carolina, where children of slaves are schooled. By the way, they picked cotton, which leads us to gaslight, and air conditioning. Georgia Kavan's glass dress leads to the neodymium glass laser, which was used in the gulf war, and the armed switch for firing a missile is also called "a hot pickle."
  1. Istanbul spice market
  2. murder for spice
  3. hot pickle
  4. 1453 Turks retake Istanbul
  5. alcoholic in a brewery
  6. pepper
  7. tea
  8. opium addict exploitation
  9. Java jungle
  10. purpose in Nature
  11. zoos
  12. Humphrey Davie's saving canaries through safe lamps
      13.  George Stephenson' consolation prize used for locomotive
      14.  John Erikson's Monitor (and Merrimack)
      15.  sea island off coast of South Carolina
      16.  school for children of slaves
      17.  cotton
      18.   gas light
      19.  Velspach's gas mantle impreganated with neodymium
      20.  air conditioning
      21.  Georgia Kavan's glass dress
      22.  neodymium glass laser
      23. YAG laser in gulf war
      24.  armed switch for firing bomb called "hot pickle"

Connections2 - Episode 13- "The Big Spin"


The greatest medical accident in history starts a trail that leads to Helen of Troy, 17th Century flower-power, the invention of soda pop and earthquake detection.
The Big Spin - is a California lottery which is basically gambling. From here Burke takes us through Alexander Flemming's chance discovery of penicillin, to Vierschoft's observation that contaminated water is related to health, to Schliemann's search for City of Troy, the theft of discovered treasure, and to Vierschoft's criminology. From there we proceed to anthropology, the classification of life forms, Francis Bacon, the statistics of mortality, life expectancy, statistical math, Priestly's carbonated water, the soda fountain, petroleum oil, French fossil hunters, seismology, and impossible-to-predict earthquakes.
  1. gambling
  2. Alexander Flemming's chance discovery of penicillin
  3. Vierschoft: contaminated water's relation to health
  4. Schliemann's search for City of Troy
  5. theft of discovered treasure
  6. Vierschoft's criminology
  7. anthropology
  8. classification of life forms
  9. Francis Bacon
      10.  statistics of mortality
      11.  life expectancy
      12.  statistical math
      13.  Priestly's carbonated water
      14.  soda fountain (see original epidoe 6:26-27)
      15.  petroleum oil
      16.  French fossil hunters
      17.  seismology
      18.  earthquakes

Connections2 - Episode 14 - "Bright Ideas"


A Baltimore man invented the bottle, which led to razors and clock springs, and the Hubble telescope.
Bright Ideas - gin and tonic was invented to combat Malaria in British colonies like Java, which leads us to Geveva where cleanliness is an obsession. Here tonic was sealed with a disposable bottle cap, and razors became disposable, leading us to Huntsman's steel, invaluable for making clock springs and chronometers. We take a little trip through lighthouses, the education of orphans,, psycho-physics, the law of the just noticeable difference, which is the idea behind stellar magnitudes, which leads us to discovering the size of the universe.
  1. gin
  2. Java
  3. mosquistos
  4. malaria (see original epidoe 7:13-17)
  5. quinine
  6. Geneva
  7. Cleanliness
  8. Schwepp's tonic
  9. bottle caps
  10. knives
  11. Gilette
      12.  Huntsman's steel  (see original epidoe 5:19-21)
      13.  clock springs
      14.  chronometers
      15.  dovetailed lighthouse blocks
      16.  Pestalozzi's orphan education
      17.  Herbach
      18.  Feckler psycho-physics
      19.  law of the just noticeable difference
      20.  stellar magnitude
      21.  Cephid variables
      22.  size of the Universe

Connections2 - Episode 15 - "Making Waves"

Hairdressers, Gold Rush miners, English parliamentarians, Scotsmen, Irish potato farmers, Revolutionary War loyalists, and innovative printers are among the characters host James Burke ties together.
Making Waves - a permanent wave in ladies' hair is aided by curlers, and this leads us to explore borax, taking us to Switzerland, Johan Sutter's scam, and the saw mill, and that means the discovery of gold leading to the 1848 California gold rush. Americans then cut into the English tea market with the aide of the Yankee Clipper, which played a big role in the gold rush. A fungus from America created the Irish potato famine, resulting in the importing of corn, but laws prevented the Yankee Clippers from being used until it was too late to save Ireland. Finally the laws were changed, leading to franking fraud, which was overcome by special printing of postage stamps, which gave us wall paper, and a thickening agent, leading us to canals, the war for independence, resettlement in Scotland, highlanders in Nova Scotia and finally the Queen Elizabeth II.
  1. Queen Elizabeth II
  2. permanent waves
  3. Nestler's curlers
  4. borax
  5. Switzerland
  6. Johan Sutter's scam
  7. Sutter's saw mill
  8. discovery of gold
  9. 1848 California gold rush
  10. Americans cut into English tea market with Yankee Clipper
  11. Clipper from New York to San Francisco gets to gold first
  12. American fungus creates Irish potato famine
  13. corn import to Ireland (on Clippers) permitted too late
      14.  import laws changed
      15.  franking fraud
      16.  printing
      17.  postage stamps
      18.  wall paper
      19.  thickening agent
      20.  Jean Baptiste Colbert
      21.  canals
      22.  war of independence
      23.  Judge Lynch and the English loyalists
      24.  resettlment in Scotland
      25.  real highlanders in Nova Scotia
      26.  Cunard Line: TransAtlantic passenger line (QE2)

Connections2 - Episode 16 - "One Word"

James Burke reveals connections between the word filioque, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, the discovery of an asteroid belt, and ancient folk tales.
Routes - Jethro Tull, a sick English lawyer, recuperates sipping wine and contributes the hoe to help fix farming problems. Farm production is not going so well in France, either. François Quesnay (doctor of King Lois XV's mistress) suggests a solution based on his complete misunderstanding of English farming techniques. Lassez-faire was his erroneous idea. It also got the people to demand social lassez-faire. His inciting the public's rebellion against the monarchy led to France's invasion of Geneva. The French Revolution led to personal exploration of the senses. Berlin doctor Müller reasoned that each sense does a different job and the nervous system analyzes what the senses are telling you. Helholtz's pupil, Hertz, discovered that sound and electricity have a wave-like nature in common. Marconi takes this a step further by sending and receiving the signals very long distances across the earth. The BBC realized that the radio waves were reflected by the ionosphere, and Hess was the first to suggest that the ionization was due to "Hess rays" later related to solar activity. But WWII started and adding machines were needed to aim artillery and so digital computing was invented. Thus, was enabled the GPS which tells you your "Routes."
  1. blank mind
  2. one word
  3. filioque
  4. Constantinople
  5. Renaissance
  6. printer Aldo Manutius of Venice
  7. abbreviation and scribbling
  8. Italic print
  9. book overload
  10. catalog
  11. Church intolerance
      12.  James Watt
      13.  Industrial revolution
      14.  Brazillius
      15.  chemistry
      16.  Hillebrand's Cerium
      17.  Ceres
      18.  Gauss calculation
      19.  Sanskrit
      20.  German heritage
      21.  Brothers Grimm
      22.  cultural anthropology

Connections2 - Episode 17 - "Routes"

A sick lawyer in 18th Century France changes farming and triggers the French Revolution and new medical research. 
Jethro Tull, a sick English lawyer, recuperates sipping wine and contributes the hoe to help fix farming problems. Farm production is not going so well in France, either. François Quesnay (doctor of King Louis XV's mistress) suggests a solution based on his complete misunderstanding of English farming techniques. Lassez-faire was his erroneous idea. It also got the people to demand social lassez-faire. His inciting the public's rebellion against the monarchy led to France's invasion of Geneva. The French Revolution led to personal exploration of the senses. Berlin doctor Müller reasoned that each sense does a different job and the nervous system analyzes what the senses are telling you. Helholtz's pupil, Hertz, discovered that sound and electricity have a wave-like nature in common. Marconi takes this a step further by sending and receiving the signals very long distances across the earth. The BBC realized that the radio waves were reflected by the ionosphere, and Hess was the first to suggest that the ionization was due to "Hess rays" later related to solar activity. But WWII started and adding machines were needed to aim artillery and so digital computing was invented. Thus, was enabled the GPS which tells you your "Routes."  

Connections2 - Episode 18 - "Sign Here"

The Wright Brothers' airplane couldn't do without them. Neither can Lloyd's of London. Host James Burke traces the use of ball bearings, beginning in the 17th century.
Sign Here - Murphy's Law says you need insurance from Lloyd's of London, so back your bags to study international law and protect yourself from piracy by calculating the probability. You better study Pascal's math for that, but you might find yourself jailed for free thinking. While you are in jail, study some sign language, or at least learn to speak better than Eliza Doolittle. Henry Higgins's waveform recordings lead you to the telephone, the invention of shorthand, the radiometer, gas flow, the Wright brothers' airplane, lubrication, ball bearings and a ballpoint pen so you can "sign here.
  1. Murphy's Law
  2. Lloyd's of London
  3. international law
  4. piracy
  5. probability
  6. Pascal
  7. freethinkers jailed
  8. sign language
  9. Pygmalian
      10.  waveform scratches on glass
      11.  telephone
      12.  shorthand
      13.  radiometer
      14.  séance
      15.  Reynolds's number
      16.  Wright Bros.
      17.  lubrication
      18.  ball bearings
      19.  ball point pens

Connections2 - Episode 19 - "Better Than the Real Thing"


How the zipper started with technology Jefferson picked up in Paris during a row about Creation.
Better Than the Real Thing - starts in the 1890's with bicycles and bloomers and then takes a look at boots, zippers, sewing machines, and infinitesimal difference. Speaking of small, we look at microscopic germs, Polarized light, sugar, coal, iron, micro-bubbles, the spectroscope, night vision, beri-beri resulting from polished rice, chickens, war rationing, and finally, we arrive at vitamins in a pill.
  1. 1890's
  2. bicycles
  3. bloomers
  4. boots
  5. Singer's zippers
  6. sewing machines
  7. Leibniz's small differences
  8. microbeastes
  9. Huygens polarized light
      10.  sugar
      11.  coal
      12.  iron
      13.  microbubbles
      14.  spectroscope
      15.  keratin
      16.  night vision
      17.  beri-beri from polished rice
      18.  Dutch chickens
      19.  rationing from war
      20.  vitamins

Connections2 - Episode 20 - "Flexible Response"

From the Longbowman and their death at Long Range, to the Windmill, to compound interest, the decimal system, to the Hurricane jetplane.
Flexible Response - is a whimsical look at the myth of the English long bow, Robin Hood, sheep, the need to drain land with wind mills, the effect of compound interest, decimal fractions, increased productivity, the Erie Canal, railroads, telegraphs, department stores, Quaker Oats, x ray diagnostics, bio-feedback, and servo control systems in a Tornado jet aircraft.
  1. Tornado bomber
  2. English long bow myth
  3. legend of Robin Hood
  4. sheep
  5. draining land
  6. Simon Stevan's windmills provide economy boost
  7. compound interest
  8. Stevan's decimal fractions
  9. productivity
  10. Morris's money decimal coining
  11. Morris's Erie canal
  12. railway along side canal
  13. sidings
      14.  Erie railroad's telegraph
      15.  economy goes up
      16.  organization
      17. department store
      18.  merchandizing
      19.  Quaker Oats
      20.   motivation
      21.   Cannon's xrays of food moving through body
      22.   stomach waves stopped during stress
      23.   bio-feedback
      24.   automatic control
      25.   Tornado jet plane

Connections 3 
1. Feedback

In the twenty-first century, electronic agents will be our servants on the great web of knowledge. They will use the kind of feedback that won World War II. Feedback mathematics is invented to help guns hit their targets. The concept of feedback originated in the vineyards of France by a wine-maker and physiologist named Claude Bernard. His ex-wife began the Humane Society, created to save people from drowning. Drownings increased due to an increase in shipping. All of this eventually leads to the hiring of a doctor at a sanitarium in Michigan. The doctor tries out new diets on the patients. The most successful product is named after him -- Kellogg's cornflakes.
Electronic agents on the internet and wartime guns use feedback techniques discovered in the first place by Claude Bernard, whose vivisection experiments kick off animal rights movements called humane societies that really start out as lifeboat crews rescuing people from all the shipwrecks happening because of all the extra ships out there who are using Matthew Maury's data on wind and currents transmitted by the radio telegraph, invented by Sam Morse, who's also a painter whose hero is Washington Allston, who spends time in Italy with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who comes to Malta and spies for the governor Alexander Ball who saved Admiral Horatio Nelson's skin so he can go head over heals for Emma Hamilton in Naples, resulting in an illegitimate son. Emma became notable in the Electrico-Magnetico Celestial Bed, where you go regain your fertility through electricity, and you can get more whiskey thanks to Dr. Joe Black, who figured the latent heat of vaporization in steam. James Watt borrowed that information to make a better steam engine. Watt is linked to Roebuck who discovered chlorine bleach which eventually is used to make white paper. The paper is used for decorating walls by Morris who's a socialist with Annie Besant, who is a vegetarian just like the Seventh Day Adventists. And we end up with Kellogg's cornflakes.

2. What's in a Name

A good breakfast leads to corn cob garbage by the ton. This is used for "furfan," and a whole new discipline no one's heard about, called furfan chemistry. Furfan can do amazing things, like creating resin for bonding. This leads to the creation of the tractor and, then the creation of the diesel engine. Believe it or not, James Burke shows how this all leads to the creation of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.
Remember the cornflakes from last episode? Thanks to the fact that corncobs make adhesives to bond Carborundum, otherwise known as silicon carbide, to grinding wheels used to grind lightbulbs. Silicon carbide is also then used as protection against armor-piercing shells developed to hit tanks that start life as American tractors, which use diesel engines developed thanks to funding from Krupp, who inspired Bismarck's welfare scheme based on Quetelet's statistics that inspired the Babbage engine, whose punch cards were used to rivet the "Great Eastern," the monster ship that laid the transatlantic cable insulated with gutta-percha used to manufacture golf balls for factory managers in industrial Scotland, where James Watt had a run-in with Cavendish, whose protegee was James Macie, who caused all the row in the capitol building, so the money got used to set up a world-renowned institution named after James Macie's new family name, which was Smithson: The institution known as the Smithsonian.

3. Drop the Apple

Smithson, the benefactor of the Smithsonian Institution, discovered the mineral calamine. This mineral is one of the most useful and unusual because it gives off electricity. The secret is in the shape. This was discovered by J. Currie of the famous pair. The first consumer use of this electricity was 33 rpm records. This eventually leads to Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity, which leads to the creation of the atomic bomb.
At the Smithsonian, we learn of electric crystals that help Pierre and Marie Curie discover what they call radium, and then Langevin uses the piezo-electric crystal to develop sonar that helps save liberty ships (from German U-boats) put together with welding techniques using acetylene made with carbon arcs, also working the arc lights with clockwork regulators built by Foucault, whose pendulum helps him to take pictures of solar eclipses. Also thanks to ash from seaweed, interchangeable parts for clocks, the world of opera, and gurus, we get Einstein's theory of the gravity effect, which means Newton's universe is gone and you can drop the apple.

4. An Invisible Object

This program travels five hundred years into the past and back, to connect mysterious black holes in space with modern fast food, via thrills and spills on the Pony Express, Italian anatomy theaters and stolen corpses, the Sultan of Turkey's disastrous finances, Renaissance German jewelry, the invention of the screw, slide rules and American tobacco plantations, boiled potatoes, Spanish Inquisition thumbscrews, and why beer is served chilled. The show also includes a French Queen's dinner party, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, the greatest disaster in history (for wine-drinkers), squeaky-clean Swiss airplanes, and a fifteenth century French barber-shop quartet.
Black holes in space, seen by the Hubble Telescope, brought into space with hydrazine fuel, which was a by-product of fungicidal French vines, fueled by quarantine conventions and money orders, American Express and Buffalo Bill, Vaudeville and French battles, Joan of Arc and the Inquisition, Jews welcomed by Turks, who lost to Maltese knights with surgeons trained on pictures by Titian, in Augsburg, where goldsmiths made French money to pay for tobacco. That triggered logarithms and slide rules made by clock makers, who also made pressure cookers that sterilized French beer kept cool by refrigerators that were also used to freeze meat and chill down paraffin wax for making objects invisible.

5. Life is No Picnic

The advent of modern coffee-vending machines spurs the creation of freeze dried coffee. This begins a revolutionary effort by the U.S. Army in World War II to lighten the soldiers' rations packs. The Star Spangled Banner lyrics are adapted from an ancient Greek poem. Mme de Stael of Switzerland drives the Romantic Movement forward in Europe. The Romantic Movement affects all thinkers which leads to future studies of animal development. Based on this research, Darwin proposes his Theory of Evolution.
Instant coffee gets off the ground in World War II and Jeeps lead to nylons and stocking machines smashed by Luddites, who were defended by Byron, who meets John Galt in Turkey , avoiding the same blockade that inspires the "Star-Spangled Banner," which was really an English song all about a Greek poet discovered by a publisher whose son-in-law is pals with Scaliger of chronology fame, whose military boss, Maurice, inspires Gustavus of Sweden, father of the runaway Christina, whose teacher Descartes' mechanical universe inspires the book about brains by Willis, which i illustrated by the architect of St. Paul's, Christopher Wren, who's dabbles in investments like the Louisiana scam that ruins France and the French finance minister, whose daughter is the opinionated de Stael, whose romantic pals get Huxley looking into jellyfish so he can defend the theory of evolution. This demonstrates that Life is No Picnic.

6. Elementary Stuff

Darwin's Theory of Evolution is shared by Alfred Russel Wallace who has a strong belief in miracles and spiritualism. British interest in spiritualism is shared by physicist Oliver Lodge who develops the coherer, the device that makes radio reception possible. With the Swiss creation of postage stamp, Switzerland becomes the world postal center. Highlanders fearing oppression from Scottish rulers flee to North Carolina where turpentine is developed. The creation of the vacuum pump is instrumental in the discovery of both Boyle's Law and Pierre Perrault's hydrography. Quarrels about whether or not present language/literature is as good as that of the past leads to the fictional character Sherlock Holmes.
Alfred Russel Wallace, who studied beetles, Oliver Joseph Lodge and telegraphy, a radio designed by Reginald Fessenden, which was used by banana growers, studied by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle, who got the Swiss to use stamps on postcards with cartoons of Gothic Houses of parliament, which in turn had been inspired by Johann Gottfried Herder's Romantic movement, inspired by fake Scottish poems. The exiled Scots escaped to North Carolina, producing turpentine, which helped make Chinese lacquer on tinplate, which is what Jean-Baptiste Colbert had hoped for. French navy decorator Puget, who paints pictures of locations where barometer are the subject of investigation. The weather experimenter, whose brother's writing turns on Swift, whose pal Berkeley has visual theories that Young confirms while decoding ancient Egyptian from examples sketched by pencils invented by French balloonists. The American balloons are used for spying by Pinkerton and his intrepid agent McParlan, who becomes famous in England because of Conan Doyle.

7.  A Special Place

Meet a real live man who changed history with a totally new way of identifying you. Plus a four hundred-year trip through 20 locations. Swedish electricity and Dutch wind tunnels use a new type of photography. Aristocratic World War I fighter aces and their crazy mountain-climbing uncles. Touchy-feely times in Romantic Germany. The mysteries of ancient cities uncovered. Female painters in eighteenth-century London theaters lit by amazing new kinds of lights. Saving sailors from shipwreck and helping Caribbean smugglers. Astronomers, poets, fishermen, mathematicians and skeptics, bird-painters and Russian skullduggery lead the program to a final beauty-spot, where hundreds of Americans get drenched every day.
Professor Sir Alec Jeffries of Leicester University in England develops DNA profiling and schlieren photography used by Theodore von Karman to study aerodynamics and Anthony Fokker's airborne machine guns and the Red Baron and geography and Romantic ideas that start in Italy and paintings of actors and lighthouses and Spanish gold and skeleton drawings and astronomical poetry by friends of fishing affiscinados who write books and Charles Cotton and skeptical wine-drinkers called Michel Eyquem, and Edward Jenner's cure for smallpox and J.J. Audubon and American bird painters and devious Russian real estate deals, --- and as a result in 1872, America gets a special place, the first national park, Yellowstone

8. Fire from the Sky

How do you go from the majestic beauty of Iceland's geysers to the destruction of the Allied Firebombing of Hamburg in World War II? You stop by Stonehenge, chat with the mystical Caballists, talk to Martin Luther, Ozeander, Tycho Brahe and Mary Queen of Scots, before heading to the magnetic North Pole. The invention of gin and tonic will set you back on course to the discovery that mixing rubber with gasoline makes it burn slower, an integral component of any firebombing. It's all a matter of connections.
Professor Sir Alec Jeffries of Leicester University in England develops DNA profiling and schlieren photography used by Theodore von Karman to study aerodynamics and Anthony Fokker's airborne machine guns and the Red Baron and geography and Romantic ideas that start in Italy and paintings of actors and lighthouses and Spanish gold and skeleton drawings and astronomical poetry by friends of fishing affiscinados who write books and Charles Cotton and skeptical wine-drinkers called Michel Eyquem, and Edward Jenner's cure for smallpox and J.J. Audubon and American bird painters and devious Russian real estate deals, --- and as a result in 1872, America gets a special place, the first national park, Yellowstone.

9. Hit the Water

If you launch your story in the cockpit of a Tornado Fighter Bomber-- the height of "smart bombs" operated by smart pilots -- dip into the history of margarine and plankton, travel to 18th Century Turkey to investigate small pox inoculations, dance at the ballet Copelia, then blow up a dam in Norway with a British commando team, how do you prevent Hitler from building and exploding atomic bombs? Through the infinite world of unexpected connections - an ingenious look at why and how Hitler never harnessed heavy water and the A-Bomb.
Thanks to napalm, made with palm oil, also used for margarine, stiffened with a process using kieselguhr that comes from plankton living in currents studied by Ballot before observing the Doppler Effect that caused Fizeau to measure the speed of light speed. Fizeau's father-in-law's friend, Prosper Mérimée, who wrote "Carmen"... his friend, Anthony Panizzi, who works at the British Museum, opened to house the collection of Dr. Hans Sloane, who treats Lady Montague's smallpox before she sees Turkish tulips, first drawn by Gesner, whose godfather eats sausages and cancels the military contract with France, which was the first to develop military music and choreography, used in a London show by John Gay, whose friend Arbuthnot does statistics that impress the Dutch mathematician who knows Voltaire, who hears from the worm-slicing Lazzaro Spallanzani, who stars in the story by Judge Hoffman, who tries German nationalists who start gymnastics, adopted by the YMCA and the guy who kicks off the Red Cross, who need a way to figure out blood types, surgical stitching, and the transfusion pump invented by Charles Lindbergh, whose father-in-law's disarmament treaty leads to "Graf Spee," "Altmark, " and the German invasion of Norway and the Allied commandos whose mission was to "Hit the Water."

10. In Touch

An American scientist ponders the problem of nuclear fusion in 1951. This unleashes a series of connections that encompass superconductors, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, King George III, modern oceanography, the Versailles Gardens, Pagoda Mania, and handwriting analysis to arrive at the Global Net. Through this chain of unexpected connections, you, too, can "stay in touch."
Starting from an attempt for cheaper fusion power using superconductivity, which was discovered by Onnes, with liquid gas provided by Cailletet, who carried out experiments up the tower built by Eiffel, who also built the Statue of Liberty with its famous poem by the Jewish activist Emma Lazarus, helped by Oliphant, whose boss Elgin was the son of the guy who stole the Elgin Marbles and sold them with the help of royal painter Thomas Lawrence, whose colleague Dr. Hunter had an assistant whose wife's lodger was none other than Benjamin Franklin, who charts the Gulf Stream with a thermometer Fahrenheit borrowed from Ole Rømer, whose friend Picard surveyed Versailles and provided the water for the fountains and the royal gardens and all the trees that inspired Duhamel to write the book on gardening that was read by the architect William Chambers, who hired the Scottish stone mason Thomas Telford, whose idea for London Bridge was turned down by Thomas Young, whose light waves travel in ether, as do Hertz's electricity waves, with which Helmholtz prods a frog to disprove the vitalists, whose leader, Klages, analyzes handwriting so individual zip codes have to be capital letters to get your mail to a jungle village to keep you "In Touch".

James Burke at a book signing in November, 1996.

Interesting sites:

The James Burke Web Repository

CNET personalities - movers and shakers - James Burke

James Burke : About the Author

UnAuthorized James Burke


Ambrose Video - sellers of James Burke DVDs and Video Tapes

Some of this information comes from Paul Laszlo, Peter Kim, and others.  Last updated 05/12/2010 .

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Last updated 7/21/97