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James Burke started as a science correspondent at the BBC in 1966, as a science correspondent. He was one of the first presenters on the BBC science series "Tomorrow's World" which could be considered as similar to the American PBS series "Scientific American Frontiers". It was during this time that he was chosen to be the BBC's presenter during the first Apollo moon landing in 1969.
Nine years later (1979), Burke created a new science history television series, titled "Connections". The premise of the series is that all historical scientific developments could not have been created in a vacuum. Instead, each development is linked to a series of other developments and historical events, and none of the inventors or participants of the other events could possibly realize what they created or what they did, could lead to the later invention. As an example, in episode 7 of the original series, the following "knowledge chain" is presented by Burke - Lloyd's of London would not insure ships if the hull was protected from rot by pitch and tar (which had to be taken from the American colonies). The American Revolution denied the British that resource, so they had to find an alternative. Lord Dundonald attempted to find an alternative by distilling coal tar from coal vapor (generated by coal furnaces) but got ammonia instead - which was helpful in the search for artificial quinine to prevent malaria in India and other colonies in tropical regions. That search for artificial quinine helped jump-start commercial chemestry into an industry, which lead to German chemists (pre-World War I), developing various dyes and artificial fertilizers (most importantly the dyes). The dyes in turn lead to competitors attempting to find ways to make the dyes themselves, including DuPont, who in their research - invented Nylon.
Burke followed up Connections with as series called "The Day the Universe Changed", which took a similar approach to scientific developments that changed how humans percieve reality and the universe, as well as two more seasons of Connections, and the video game. Burke appeared in the video game in a similar role to the one he performed in the series, serving as a guide to the player, and helping to set up and explain each set of connections.
Burke was also an early advocate for wide open access to the Internet, arguing that wide, open access to the internet would break down social and cultural barriers, by allowing people of different ethnic and social backgrounds to meet and exchange ideas on a truely level playing field.
Since the conclusion of the final Connections series, Burke has written many essays in the same general style for Scientific American Magazine, which were collected in several books, published by Simon and Schuster.