Author, science historian, TV host James Burke to speak

James Burke James Burke, author, creator and host of such TV series as “Connections” and “The Day the Universe Changed,” will discuss “Technology, Change and the Arts” on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

The admission-free show, which is sold out, will begin at 8 p.m. in the Hewitt Union ballroom.

Hailed by the Washington Post as “one of the most intriguing minds in the Western world,” Burke first gained fame in the United States when his 1979 British Broadcasting Corp. series “Connections” aired on the Public Broadcasting Service and became one of PBS’ most-watched series ever. The science historian and former BBC chief reporter for the Apollo space missions followed up with the popular public television series “The Day the Universe Changed” in 1985.

He later produced two sequel series for The Learning Channel, “Connections2” and “Connections3.” His books include “The Pinball Effect,” “The Knowledge Web,” “Circles” and “Twin Tracks.” In video or written form, Burke’s work appears in the curriculum of many universities and schools in the United States.

The Oxford-educated thinker is known for his look at how historic events inspire each other as well as his wry British humor. His series have probed such unlikely connections as the popularity of underwear in the 12th century with the invention of the printing press, the opera “Carmen” with the theory of relativity, and the work of Mozart with the Stealth aircraft.

Burke has also been a regular columnist or contributor for such publications as Scientific American, Forbes and Time magazine.

“More than ever, the only constant in modern life is change,” Burke wrote in a special “Inventors & Inventions” section for Time. “In the history of scientific and technological endeavor, there are few if any cases in which the end was exactly what was intended at the beginning.”

When not writing books or making documentaries, Burke is a sought-after speaker on the topic of technology and change for the likes of NASA, IBM, Microsoft, Nike, the Association of American Engineering Societies, the Carnegie Science Center, colleges around the globe, U.S. and other nations’ government agencies and the World Affairs Council.

“If you crossed the zany comedy team of Monty Python with physicist Stephen J. Hawking and maybe seasoned the hybrid with a dash of ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ host Alastair Cooke, you might come up with a clone of James Burke,” the Aurora Beacon News said of an appearance by Burke at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.

Burke’s appearance is part of SUNY Oswego’s Arts and Technology program series. His talk is sponsored by the Student Association Programming Board, Artswego and the College of Arts and Sciences, all part of SUNY Oswego.

Seats must be claimed by 7:40 p.m. Feb. 21 to be guaranteed.

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(Posted: Jan 31, 2007)