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Day the Universe Changed

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,486 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
In The Day the Universe Changed, James Burke examines eight periods in history when our view of the world shifted dramatically: in the eleventh century, when extraordinary discoveries were made by Spanish crusaders; in fourteenth-century Florence, where perspective in painting emerged; in the fifteenth century, when the advent of the printing press shook the foundations of ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published November 29th 2009 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 1984)
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Wael Mahmoud
May 02, 2016 Wael Mahmoud rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ليس تعليقا على الكتاب - وهو بالمناسبة كتاب رائع وممتع - ولكن فرصة لحكاية قصة حقيقية حزينة طريفة تخص نسختي من هذا الكتاب.

كنت قد أعرت نسختي لأحد أصدقائي الذي تركها بسيارته يوما وإذ بالسيارة تسرق وبعد دفع الفدية إستعاد السيارة ولكن بدون الكتاب. يبدو أن اللص المثقف أو أحمد راتب "آخر الرجال المحترمين" قرر الإحتفاظ به. ولذلك ومن هذا المنبر أوجه نداء لكل الأعضاء الأفاضل ان يساعدوني في البحث عن نسختي لدى باعة الكتب القديمة - لا أحلم بأن يكون اللص المثقف شخصيا عضو معنا هنا ويتكرم بإعادة الكتاب لي - النسخ
Douglas Bittinger
I absolutely *love* this book. It may well be the only non-fiction book that I have ever said this about, but I found so much entertainment as well as a wealth of education in it that it deserves this banner. Mr Burke takes historically significant moments - some I knew about and some I didn't - and shows us just how these moments turned the entire Universe of knowledge on it's ear. Even if we didn't see it at the time. It is very thought provoking and really opened my eyes to the stodgy way we ...more
Mar 17, 2009 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I believe this was the companion book to the wonderful PBS Series of the same title hosted by James Burke (in the 1980's). In it, he pinpoints pinnacle points in scientific history that changed the world as we know it (hopefully you weren't reading that last sentence aloud).

What I love most about this book is that Mr Burke understands that no Scientific "discovery" or theory actually drops from a tree like Newton's apple (no matter how tasty that apple is). He does a wonderful job rewinding from
Sep 18, 2011 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is a companion to the 1980s BBC series by James Burke, The Day The Universe Changed. Burke episodically walks us through some of the turning points in the development and educational evolution of man. The BBC series (shown on PBS in the 80's) is enlightening, provocative, and very entertaining. The book, however, is dry by comparison, and lacks Burke's personal entertaining style and wit.
You can see the BBC series on Youtube; you can also buy the DVD set for home TV viewing, about $100
Feb 03, 2013 Cara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like this book because James Burke has a huge underlying bias: There is no real truth. I do agree with his idea that our perspective and beliefs shape the way we see the world, and that science and knowledge of the world influences how we see the world around us. Ironically, the reason I didn't like his book is his own bias against Christianity. Burke seems to portray the idea that since our understanding of the truth is always changing, we cannot rely on our beliefs and that there is n ...more
Apr 11, 2008 Medeyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Burke is a very clear, concise and intelligent writer who carefully chooses the events he believes to be the most signal in changing our understanding of the way the universe works. He ends his book with the thesis that since all facts and information are filtered through the societal understanding of the people who look for and interpret them, truth itself is relative, and the way we understand the universe today is not necessarily the final say. In fact, history would suggest that another chan ...more
May 09, 2015 Eleanor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book and the TV series that goes with it. James Burke gave a view on science, technology and history that still aids understanding of how the world works and how humans work within it. It is a view that encourages us to look at people, events, cultures, worldviews, in their own contexts, rather than judging them by our own standards.

By arguing for a relativistic view of knowledge, Burke demonstrates that changes in human perceptions of reality - which are what knowledge is - alter
Janet Zehr
May 22, 2015 Janet Zehr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Burke has a view of history as a web of discoveries rather than a linear progression. This book follows that pattern. He takes us from the dark ages all the way to today. Progress is very limited at first, as people are isolated after the fall of the Roman Empire. There is no exchange of knowledge, and the Bible is the authority for belief in nature. Most people cannot read, so hearsay is how they obtain information.
Gradually, there is more interchange of information as one after another,
Nov 28, 2015 Josh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read, and is right in line with what I was hoping for.

The book itself is a history of science, and looks at various moments in history when some event either shaped subsequent history, or how larger changes came about.

For example, there's a section on medicine and physicians. Initially, physicians are highly educated experts who horde their private knowledge of remedies, and have limited to no accountability for their talent in treating various diseases and ailments. Fast forward to a cou
Aug 21, 2013 Malea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
History is not defined by the things that happen; it is defined by what causes things to happen. The book, The Day the Universe Changed, by James Burke, explores those moments of change, that have occurred throughout history. Most of the changes examined by the author, at first glance, seem out of place, and even irrelevant. However, every change discussed in this book is part of a bigger picture: their presence in our modern world. This book explains that although our world is incredibly differ ...more
Apr 03, 2008 Dfordoom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Based on his TV series of the same name from the mid-1980s. It’s about the fundamental changes that have occurred in our understanding of how the world works, and the ways in which society has been changed as a result. Burke’s great gift is for connecting things (which is why I guess he called his later TV series Connections!) and I particularly like the way he weaves scientific and cultural change together in his accounts of the birth of modern medicine and the birth of modern geology and evolu ...more
Jan Priddy
Jan 26, 2016 Jan Priddy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would prefer to watch the series, which I have watched many times, but the book is great as a companion. You will not find Burke's head poking unexpectedly into the frame and there are not the moments where you wonder, "How di he get permission to do that?" The book is good though and contains much of the script, though I have not watched and followed along. Someday I will do that.

Anyway. The series is one of the greatest ever made and the book is excellent.
John Doyle
Oct 25, 2015 John Doyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-read
The Day the Universe Changed is a companion book to a BBC series of the same name that was first aired in the mid-1980's. The stories of Galileo, the printing press, perspective in art and others that mark turning points in human history are fascinating to me every time I read about them so I enjoyed the book. However, the most striking takeaway this time was really the acceleration of change in just the last several hundred years. Our brains are wired to deal with (or impose) ordered, unchangin ...more
Mar 26, 2014 Pamela rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I give up. I made it about 2/3 of the way through before I had to throw in the towel on this one. 1) It was very poorly written. Main ideas are very poorly articulated. 2) He is either anti-religious or at least anti-Catholic. A lot of personal opinion colored his commentary to such a degree it is difficult to trust his conclusions.

James Henderson
Jun 18, 2015 James Henderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James Burke has a unique way of bringing the complexity of science to a clear and simple explanation that one never seemed to grasp in school.
Meh, I had a hard time with this book, too textbooky. Incredibly informative (although there were many copy errors in this edition.
Mousa Alsabahi
Jul 12, 2016 Mousa Alsabahi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
الكتاب أشبه بفلم وثائقي -في الحقيقه هو مفرغ من فلم وثائقي- يحكي تاريخ العلم واهم المحطات والاشخاص التي مرت بها النهضه العلميه
Simon Dudley
Apr 15, 2016 Simon Dudley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the single most important work in my Library. It made me think about how the world works in a utterly new way.
Rick Ludwig
James Burke is one of my favorite non-fiction authors. I loved "Connections" and my favorite book of his was "The Pinball Effect". Unfortunately, "The Day the Universe Changed" let me down quite a bit. Oh, it still had some excellent scientific history and there were certainly no errors of fact. But the book seemed to lack some of the excitement of Burke's other works and was much less organized. The last chapter was especially nebulous and didn't seem to tie things up well at all. I will contin ...more
Oct 20, 2007 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
non-fiction. Burke is awesome. Be careful, he looks at things from a perspective that I was not used to. Basically, he goes through history to review the series of events that led from one to another to be pivotal in creating the world we live in. I like him because he focuses on the individuals that were key and tells why they were so crucial. While this can be someone over simplifying, I tend to agree that history often boils down to specific people. Burke puts that individual face on the daun ...more
Doris Raines
A. Book. To. Read.
Ethar Mahmoud
عندما تغير العالم
Feb 17, 2013 Shane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good overview of the history of scientific development covering a broad range of history. A good read, but I enjoyed "The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science" more, but "wonder" is a more narrowly focused history. "changed" mentions some of what happens in "wonder" in passing.

This seems to be based on the bbc documentary which is available on youtube and worth watching.

Jun 05, 2014 Kathie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book my father gave me 20 plus years ago. I began reading this book about a year ago and abandoned it for months and finally scanned the last 30 pages. I found the earlier sections more interesting than the last few chapters. Burke argues that when man's views of reality are changed by knowledge, reality itself changes. It makes one wonder, what or our "reality" of today will be proven to be very different in the future.
Gary Turner
Dec 17, 2014 Gary Turner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is excellent for what it was intended. Packed with historic facts, feats, stories and anecdotes. I just thoroughly enjoyed. I have given this book to many as a gift. I hope they will take the time to read. Do yourself a big favor and read this instead of watching the latest series of 'who done it'. On a side note, too bad 'California Chrome' had to race against those that did not participate in the 'triple crown'.
Oct 25, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2004
An excellent and fascinating book. It took me quite a while to read it as it is pretty heavy material, but I definitely feel smarter for having done so. It looks and reads a lot like a history text (I actually had someone on the plane ask what period in history I was studying), but an interesting one! My only complaint is the poor punctuation editing -- the book would certainly be much easier to read were there more commas.
James Burke is the very epitome of the obnoxious presenter. No question. But I did like both the TV series and book versions of "The Day The Universe Changed". The book is fun--- not analytically deep, of course, but a fun introduction to key events and key ideas that led to the construction of modernity and the modern scientific worldview. Worth reading--- and the series is worth renting, too.
This is a great recap of James Burke's take on change. Really a special book and worth a review if you're a fan of any of Burke's TV work. As a devotee of Connections (I still think its the best documentary series ever made - take that Ken Burns!) this opened my eyes to Burke's scholarship and understanding of the causes and outcomes of change in the Western world.
Jan 16, 2014 Elisabeth rated it really liked it
At times it's a bit difficult to follow, with all the names tossed around within the pages. That didn't prevent me from enjoying it. A clever dip into science that changed history-and vice versa.
Apr 01, 2012 Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting reading his take on the points or times that changed the world. Reading, Mathematics, Medicine, Industrialization, and Science to name a few. Very slow reading as it has many facts and is written somewhat like a text book. I did enjoy the book. Just took me quite a while to finish it.
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Incorrect author 2 11 Jun 29, 2012 02:23PM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

James Burke is a Northern Irish science historian, author and television producer best known for his documentary television series called Connections, focusing on the history of science and technology leavened with a sense of humour.
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