Some of you may remember the 1979 television series “Connections” that was written and narrated by James Burke, a British science writer. Burke’s technique was to choose a number of seemingly unrelated ideas and show how they led to developments in science and technology. This is an enjoyable business, even if some of the connections seem to be stretched at times, and led to a book by Burke. In a number of talks that I have given over the years, I have made somewhat less fanciful connections that suggest how the technologies of high vacuum and high voltage led to what used to be called “modern physics.” Today we might limit the “modern” era to the years from 1890 to 1920 that gave the first workable theories of small-scale physics.

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