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The Pinball Effect:
How Renaissance Water Gardens Made the Carburetor Possible - and Other Journeys

by James Burke

ISBN 0316116106 / 9780316116107 / 0-316-11610-6
Publisher Back Bay Books
Language English
Edition Softcover
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Book summary

Follow the bouncing ball, James Burke-style: spice trading in the Middle Ages leads to the European tea-drinking craze, which helps instigate the development of the science of natural history, which in turns inspires the creation of the coal miner's safety lamp, which is somehow related to the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack. From there we go to North Carolina cotton industry, Thomas Edison's very first electric power station, air conditioning, glass manufacturing, and laser beams. The end result? The smart bombs used during the Gulf War. Burke, who wrote Connections (the book and the television show), revels--or better, wallows--in the accidental nature of the march of discovery. Despite a penchant for playing it loose and free with scientific and historical accuracy, Burke has compiled a fascinating look at the great matrix of change and transformation that humans have created for themselves. [via]