James Burke explores key moments in Western History where new knowledge in science changed the way the modern Western world thinks.






Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Ascent of Man (TV Mini-Series 1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9/10 X  

An account of man's development through his scientific and technological achievements.

Stars: Jacob Bronowski, Joss Ackland, Roy Dotrice
Civilisation (TV Mini-Series 1969)
Documentary | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
Stars: Kenneth Clark, Nicholas Blake, William Devlin
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

A documentary about evolution.

Stars: David Attenborough
Cosmos (TV Mini-Series 1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.3/10 X  

Astronomer Carl Sagan leads us on an engaging guided tour of the various elements and cosmological theories of the universe.

Stars: Carl Sagan, Jaromír Hanzlík, Jonathan Fahn
The Story of Science (TV Mini-Series 2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Michael Mosley takes an informative and ambitious journey exploring how the evolution of scientific understanding is intimately interwoven with society's historical path.

Stars: Michael Mosley, Robert W. Allan, Marlon Beale
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A series of films about how humans have been colonized by the machines we have built. Although we don't realize it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of the computers.

Stars: Adam Curtis, Stewart Brand, Peder Anker
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

How tenuous is man's hold on civilization when survival becomes an issue? When the lights go out and stay out for several days, suburbanites Matthew and Annie learn the hard way that man is... See full summary »

Director: David Koepp
Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Elisabeth Shue, Dermot Mulroney
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
Stars: Samuel West, Richard Cork, Jonathan Jones
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  

Mythologist Joseph Campbell presents his ideas about comparative mythology and the ongoing role of myth in human society.

Stars: Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers, George Lucas
Connections (TV Mini-Series 1978)
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.3/10 X  

Follow James Burke through the history of science and technology. In this collection of 10 1-hour episodes, starting with "The Trigger Effect".

Stars: James Burke, Mark Wing-Davey
Connections 3 (1997–1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
Stars: James Burke, John Carrigan
Connections 2 (TV Mini-Series 1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Sequel series to the 1979 "Connections" where historian James Burke walks the viewer through the tenuous threads of history that link seemingly obscure scientific breakthroughs and the ... See full summary »

Stars: James Burke, Steve Davis, Mandy Maxwell


Series cast summary:
James Burke ...
 Himself - Host (10 episodes, 1985)


This series based on a simple premise, the universe is essentially only how you yourself perceive it. If you change what you know about the universe, then to you, you have essentially changed the universe itself. In this series, James Burke explores nine key moments in the history of the Western world when the introduction of new knowledge and/or technology has led to profound changes in how the West thinks. These include things like the introduction of Guttenberg's printing press, Copernicus's sun centered universe model and Darwin's publishing of his theory of evolution. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




| | | |


Release Date:

19 March 1985 (UK)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(10 episodes)


See  »

Did You Know?


James Burke: ...and then things took an encouraging turn for the so-so.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

More James Burke goodness.
30 April 2013 | by (The San Francisco Bay Area) – See all my reviews

James Burke gives us a similar take on scientific discovery and technological breakthrough like he did in his excellent "Connections" series a few years before with "The Day the Universe Changed". This is a further examination of how science and technology have linear relations that spark change through society that, although they may feel like waves, are merely triggers or lynch pins that put other discoveries and events into motion. And, once you know that, how are you going to embrace the new society in the late 20th century and welcome the coming changes in the 21st century.

The whole gist of the series is that once you have this perspective, and know that the world is what you make of it, then, in Burke's opinion, you should shape your world to your needs. And the the reason you should do that is to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes of the past, because he shows you how science and engineering brought society forward, but also how it pushed it back when things went wrong.

And that's the real gem of the series. He doesn't show us outstanding successes by themselves, and then tout the virtues of science, logic/reason and applications of those methods, but also what drives men forward, and how some men are blinded by ego or desire.

That's about all the series is, though it also serves as a primer for the world about to be "radically changed". He of course speaks of the internet going public, and not just confined to labs and universities (as well as military installations), but given to the general public en large. He poses to us, the viewing audience, what if our community were boundless, and was not restrained by the old political boundaries that had held mankind back in previous ages?

From prehistoric man, to the classical era, to medieval times, to the renaissance, to the age of reason and beyond, Burke examines points in history and how that changed our ancestor's view, and how it shaped our present perspective. And he warns and asks us that, knowing this, what will we do with the future tomorrow.

It is a very welcome series shot on the usual UK 16mm format for TV of the 80s and before. Burke's esogination and presentation, as well as the theatrical vignettes, drive home his observations and educated us on passing facts that underline his lessons.

Definitely worth viewing for those of us who came of age before the 90s. Younger audiences may see this series as an anachronism, and who can blame them, because a lot of what Burke foretold has come about. Even so, give it a chance, if for no other reason than to see how us older folks viewed the world that eventually came into being.


0 of 0 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Where can I buy a copy? snu_grad
When will this be on DVD??? N0TY
Burke should do a 25th anniversary addendum FrenchCelt
Discuss The Day the Universe Changed (1985) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page