Pushing the Limits: Connection

This program unit engages your community in a consideration of the ways that we connect across time and across space. Humans have an inherent need to reach out to others, to feel that we’ve been heard and seen, and to feel a connection with people and the larger world around us. Whether through art, technology or the restoration of land for future generations, we each find ways to push the limits of connection. 
Scenes from “Pushing the Limits: Connection”

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Interview with Erik Larson
Erik Larson, author of the widely acclaimed Devil in the White City, combines painstaking research with technological history to create compelling characterizations and murderous twists. His novel Thunderstruck traces Guglielmo Marconi’s struggle to generate enough electricity for a reliable trans-Atlantic transmission, pushing the limits of inter-continental connection.

Larson intertwines this narrative with the true-life search for one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers. Amazingly, Marconi’s newly-launched successful technology allowed people on both sides of the pond to listen-in as Scotland Yard tracked and captured the villain.

You can watch Erik Larson’s interview below. Note that the button on the bottom right of the video will make the video go to “full screen” mode. In full screen mode you will have the control at the bottom of the screen to advance and rewind. After viewing, you can select the esc key to escape full screen.

Alternatively, you can select the video icon at the bottom of the page to download the video to your own computer, which is a better option if you have limited bandwidth. We recommend downloading (now or later) all of the videos and resources to use during your library programs. Downloaded videos are .mp4 files. If your computer does not open and play them automatically, you may need to download a free video player, such as Quicktime or VLC.

Erik Larson
Author Interview
Science in Everyday Life
Sculptor Roxanne Swentzell was born with a speech impediment that made it hard to communicate with the world around her, until the first time she began to work in clay. Now a renowned sculptor with works displayed around the world, her art connects her heritage from a long line of Native pot makers,with her contemporary views of family and culture.

Her connection to the land goes back for thousands of years, and she’s reaffirmed that as a founder of the Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute in New Mexico. She and her grown children (Rose and Porter) constantly endeavor to push their limits by listening to the past and to leaving important physical messages for the future.

Watch Roxanne’s story here, or select the video icon at the bottom of the page to download it to your computer.

Roxanne Swentzell
Science in Everyday Life



To support your implementation of Pushing the Limits: Connection you can download this document, which contains:

  • A list of additional suggested booksarrowsdownload icondownload MS Word icon
  • A set of discussion questions that can be customized to your community’s interests


Marketing your Program
We recommend starting your planning and marketing at least 2-3 months before your program date. Please note that instructions for appropriate credit are included in the Marketing and Communications Plan Template. At minimum, the following program credit line must appear in all published materials relating to Pushing the Limits:

Pushing the Limits is a reading, viewing, and discussion program for adults in communities served by rural libraries, made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation.”

Program Resources


Download the Interview with Erik Larson. Depending on your bandwidth, this file may take several minutes to download. It is approximately four minutes of video.

Download Roxanne’s story here. This video is approximately twelve minutes long and may take several minutes to download. We recommend that you download all the files for your public program, rather than stream them from this website.

Download a one-minute video that you can use to promote the program through your own website.

Download a list of short readings related to this topic. You and your science partner may want to use these as additional examples in your program, or they may lead to ideas for customizing the programs for your own community.

* Videos are to be viewed only as part of the Pushing the Limits program,
and copies may be distributed outside of the library only if accompanied by a copy of
this document.

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