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By Adam Thomas

Tuesday August 14, 2007

You ever wonder how it all works? Like, how did we get to this point where we have cars, computers, atom bombs and airplanes? It’s easy enough to say people invented them, but this is simplistic and misleading. Yes, people did invent them, but there is a much much longer story behind…well, everything. Like how the invention of the plow led to the building of the pyramids and how a simple triangular sail on ships led to the understanding of magnetism. Finally out on DVD is the BBC investigative science programme Connections. First aired in 1978 this multi-part show hosted by science historian James Burke is a mind-blowing detective story where we are the detectives. Over the course of three seasons, we are guided through the minute and often seemingly irrelevant interconnectedness of inventions, discoveries and whimsical mistakes that have been the backbone of human progress since the beginning of time. How did someone in the Highlands of Scotland trying to understand fog lead us to understand the splitting of the atom? Burke is a fountain of information and his ability to criss cross history and unravel the web of creation is fascinating and humbling. This is a real treasure for those who are curious and an indispensable resource for those who know it’s cool to be smart.