The Day the Universe Changed

Kartik Narayanan
2 min readFeb 22, 2017

“The Day the Universe Changed” examines the history of science. James Burke talks us through various periods in our history starting from the 11th century on and shows us the evolution of science in various fields. These fields range from medicine to astronomy, relativity to natural history and so on.

The chapters/subjects covered are below.

  1. The Way We Are: It Started with the Greeks
  2. In the Light of the Above: Medieval Conflict — Faith & Reason
  3. Point of View: Scientific Imagination in the Renaissance
  4. A Matter of Fact: Printing Transforms Knowledge
  5. Infinitely Reasonable: Science Revises the Heavens
  6. Credit Where It’s Due: The Factory & Marketplace Revolution
  7. What the Doctor Ordered: Social Impacts of New Medical Knowledge
  8. Fit to Rule: Darwin’s Revolution
  9. Making Waves: The New Physics — Newton Revised
  10. Worlds Without End: Changing Knowledge, Changing Reality

This book is based on the BBC series, presented by James Burke, in the 1980s, which covered the same topics. The series is available on YouTube.

James Burke clearly demonstrates how we have moved from “Credo ut intelligam” ((I come to understanding only through belief) to “intelligo ut credam” (belief can come only through understanding). This is a fundamental shift in human behaviour. James Burke shows us how the tiniest innovation in one field by one person influenced or created a whole new area of science. In addition, There are tons of fascinating titbits which are interspersed in this book. This book opens up our mind to new concepts and help us appreciate how the various fields in science have come about in existence.

James Burke is a noted science historian who has written a slew of brilliant non-fiction books. I particularly loved ‘Changes’ which might be a more accessible book to the average person than this one.

I would highly recommend this book to all. If you are interested in science, this book is a must-read. If you find it hard to read, please watch the videos instead. I would put them on the same level as Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.

Originally published at Digital Amrit.