In his three Connections series, science historian James Burke quickly covers a large number of topics. I often found myself interested in a location or object in the background that Burke doesn't directly address, so I've done some research on my own to compile more information. I plan to expand this list as I find the time.
Connections 2, Episode 1: Revolutions
- (13:05 - 13:40) This is Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 34, which Burke correctly identifies as the launch site used by early missions in the Apollo program, though he doesn't refer to it by its designation. Note that only the Saturn I and IB vehicles were launched from LC-34; the mission footage used in this episode shows a later Saturn V that would have been launched from LC-39.
Connections 2, Episode 2: Sentimental Journeys
- (04:08 - 04:29) This clip shows John Barrymore playing the title character in the 1931 film Svengali, which was the second of at least four movies based on the story of George du Maurier's 1895 novel Trilby.
Connections 2, Episode 6: Echoes of the Past
(18:54 - 19:43) The amateur astronomer mentioned by Burke is Grote Reber.
Connections 2, Episode 8: Separate Ways
- (20:30 - 20:47) Burke visits the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and briefly discusses the reactor there. It's not mentioned by name in the program, but this is the X-10 Graphite Reactor, and the numbered grid of holes shown in a few shots is the reactor's loading face, from which fresh uranium slugs were added.
Connections 3, Episode 2: What's in a Name?
- (44:00 - 45:06) James Macie is better known as James Smithson, and the substance found in the joints of bamboo is tabasheer.
Connections 3, Episode 7: A Special Place
- (06:35 - 08:05) The game that Burke is playing is Sega NetMerc (originally known as TecWar). It's an early virtual reality arcade game that was jointly developed by Sega and the UK-based Virtuality Group. Because it was based on the Sega Model 1 hardware which was being supplanted by the Model 2 at the time, it was produced only in limited numbers and remaining examples of the game are now quite rare.
Connections 3, Episode 9: Hit the Water
- (16:42 - 17:10) The inspector-general of French libraries whom Burke refers to as "Libri" is actually Guglielmo Libri Carucci dalla Sommaja, and who is indeed most famous for having stolen 30,000 valuable books and manuscripts.