From the bestselling author of The Knowledge Web come fifty mesmerizing journeys into the history of technology, each following a chain of consequential events that ends precisely where it began. Whether exploring electromagnetic fields, the origin of hot chocolate, or DNA fingerprinting, these essays all illustrate the surprisingly circular nature of change.
In "Room with (Half) a View," for instance, Burke muses about the partly obscured railway bridge outside his home on the Thames, a musing which sets off a chain of thought that leads from the bridge's engineer to Samuel Morse, to firearms inventor Sam Colt, and finally to a trombonist named Gustav Holst, who once lived in the very house that blocks Burke's view.
So it goes with Burke's entertaining and informative essays as each one highlights the interconnectedness of seemingly unrelated events and innovations. Romantic poetry leads to brandy distillation; tonic water connects through Leibniz to the first explorers to reach the North Pole. This unique collection is sure to stimulate and delight history buffs, technophiles, and anyone else with a healthy intellectual curiosity.
In this delightful collection of 10-minute essays that first appeared in his popular Scientific American column, "Connections," Burke (author of the bestselling The Knowledge Web, etc.) charts the far fewer than 360 degrees of separation between the famous, the not-so-famous, and their technical and artistic creations across far-flung epochs, locales and professions. Burke believes, and demonstrates, that everything comes full circle: for example, in "Cheers," a gin and tonic at a hotel bar gets Burke thinking about Jacob Schweppes, who first devised bottle-cap effervescence, which leads to Joseph Priestley, inventor of soda water and a product of the Dissenter academies inspired by Amos Komensky, who also influenced the great Leibnitz, whose role as librarian to the Elector of Hanover brings Burke to diarist, bibliophile and Admiralty secretary Samuel Pepys... and he follows the thread on until it leads him to Felix Booth, who had made his fortune from Booth's Gin. Whew! Readers will be fascinated by Burke's route through the labyrinthine corridors of history. This book is ideal for dipping into, a few essays at a time. Agent, Carlton Sedgeley, Royce Carlton Inc. (Dec. 12) Forecast: Though British, Burke has a dedicated following on these shores. In addition to writing his Scientific American column, he hosts the Learning Channel's Connections 3, and his Knowledge Web was on Business Week's bestseller list. This book is an alternate selection of several of Doubleday Selects' science clubs (Natural Science, Library of Science) and the Readers Subscription club, and it is also a QPB alternate. There will be a radio satellite tour and online publicity for the book, as well as a national print publicity campaign. Nonscientists and young readers will enjoy following Burke through his web of knowledge.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Simon & Schuster
August 31, 2003
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