ALPHABETICAL BRAIN™ VOCABULARY
HUMANIST HUB
OF SECULAR SCIENCE STARS
JAMES BURKE

May 23, 2020

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Note: James Burke began his series of three internationally famous books with the original classic television documentary in the 1970s, and the companion book, Connections (1979). He examineed the ideas, inventions, and coincidences that culminated in the major technological advances in the 20th century. His book is a brilliant examination of the ideas, inventions, and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological achievements of our time. With dazzling insight, he untangled the pattern of interconnecting events: the accidents of time, circumstance, and place that gave rise to the major inventions of the world. He said, "My purpose is to acquaint the reader with some of the forces that have caused change in the past, looking specifically at eight innovations. They are [1] the computer; [2] the production line; [3] telecommunications; [4] the airplane; [5] the atomic bomb; [6] plastics; [78] the guided rocket; and [8] television.

Then came the book, The Day the Universe Changed (1985), which argues that knowledge is a man-made artifact which can change a person's concept of the nature of realtiy itself. Burke examines the critical periods from the Middle Ages to the late 20th century. The book starts with the rediscovery of the teachings of classical Greece in the 11th century, which stimulated the passion for scientific learning and divided the medieval world from the modern world. Other chapters describe how we rediscovered perspective geometry in Renaissance Florence and its relation to the belief in individualism; the development of the printing press and the birth of propoganda; the study of cannon trajectories that led to the discovery of the law of gravity; the religious, agricultural, and economic causes of the Industrial Rwevolution; the pairing of statistics with statistics in Revolutionary France that allowed man to study himself in society; the origins of evolution; and finally Heisenberg's fearful Uncertainty Principle, which challenged the rational, Newtonian view and led to relativity and quantum mechanics. Burke convincingly demonstrates how new knowledge can render traditional systems of belief invalid. The book challenges readers to decide whether knowledge is absolute or relative depending upon cultural values.

The most recent book, The Pinball Effect (1996), views history not as the usual chain of historical events but as a complex web of the serendipitous and the seemingly unconnected and inconsequential.

Picking up the theme of his earlier bestselling book, Connections, Burke investigated the dynamic interplay of scientific discovery, technological innovation and social change in a dizzying, mind-expanding adventure that explored the crosscurrents of history. The "Pinball Effect" is a metaphor for this "intellectual web" that is deliberately less coherent and less pretentious than his earlier book and TV series.

In the past, Burke was criticized for oversimplifying complex interactions to keep his story going, and the same criticism can be made here. His 20 chapters each chronicle the apparently unrelated events leading to a modern technology, each chapter relating in some way to the next, until the last leads back to the first. Several hundred hypertext-like margin-notes connect topics in one chapter to similar topics in another. The cross-chapter margin references that imitate computer hypertext encourage the reader to jump between chapters at will, creating literally thousands of alternative reading sequences.

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Book #1
CONNECTIONS:
How Renaissance Water Gardens
Made the Carburator Possible: and
Other Journeys through Knowledge.

by James Burke.
1978, 1995, new preface 2007
(304 pages)

A review of the Connections documentary set of 5 DVDs will be referenced online very soon.

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Book #2:
DAY THE UNIVERSE CHANGED:
by James Burke.
Little, Brown, 1985 (352 pages)

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Book #3:
PINBALL EFFECT:
How Renaissance Water Gardens
Made the Carburator Possible: and
Other Journeys through Knowledge.

by James Burke.
Little, Brown, 1996 (310 pages)

The three book outlines and reviews and the critique of the Connections TV series of five DVDs should be read and viewed throughout the Humanist Galaxy (population of free thinkers):

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Click or Tap Link for Outlines and Reviews

Book #1:
CONNECTIONS:
How Renaissance Water Gardens
Made the Carburator Possible: and
Other Journeys through Knowledge.


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Book #2:
DAY THE UNIVERSE CHANGED:

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Book #3:
PINBALL EFFECT:
How Renaissance Water Gardens
Made the Carburator Possible: and
Other Journeys through Knowledge.


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James Burke

HUMANIST GALAXY
OF SECULAR SCIENCE STARS


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