Little Brown & Company
The Pinball Effect takes the reader on many different journeys through the web of knowledge. Knowledge, it turns out, has many unforeseen and surprising effects. The book, for instance, owes its existence to German jeweler Johannes Gutenberg’s getting the date wrong one day in the fifteenth century. The lamp you may now be using to read by started life four hundred years ago, thanks to Italian miners whose problems led to learning about the vacuum inside a lightbulb. The discovery of America led to the science of anthropology. Renaissance water gardens made possible the carburetor.
James Burke, author and host of the highly rated documentary series Connections 2, draws upon years of research to examine the intrigues and surprises on the journey through knowledge, a trip with all the twists and turns of a detective story. Ultimately, the larger picture that emerges has far-reaching and important implications for the future, revealing why the fundamental mechanism of change is the way things come together and connect.
To add to the excitement, The Pinball Effect has been designed to be read interactively: throughout the book, cross-chapter references mimic computer hypertext “hot links” and allow readers to leap from one chapter to another. The result is a fascinating tour through history’s most dramatic innovations.
James Burke is the bestselling author of Connections and The Day Universe Changed, as well as the host the highly rated documentary series Connections 2, which airs on The Learning Channel. Currently a regular columnist for Scientific American, he lives in England.