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Short Stories of Science and Invention

A Collection of Radio Talks by
Charles F. Kettering

INDEX

Weekly, from September 1942 to July 1945, Charles F. Kettering gave five-minute intermission talks about Science and Invention during the radio broadcasts of the General Motors Symphony of the Air.

Kettering invented the first automobile self-starter, and for 31 years directed a research laboratory for General Motors.

These radio talks are a fascinating legacy from the mind of a prolific inventor. The obvious anachronisms now add a historical perspective of the war-time period in which they were written.

These web pages now preserve some of the most popular stories for a new generation to read The text and art come from a General Motors booklet of selected talks. (Reprint, March 1959)

23.  R - A - D - A - R
A Radio Talk by
Charles F. Kettering


    Radar is simply an abbreviation of the words "radio detection and ranging" which means finding the direction of an object and how far it is away. Its development depended on the measurement of a very high speed and a very short time.

    Nearly a hundred years ago a Frenchman - Fizeau, measured the speed of light. He found it to be 186,000 miles per second or a distance equal to seven times around the earth.

Hertz    In 1886 Heinrich Hertz demonstrated that what we call radio waves had the same speed as light and could be reflected in the same manner. Three years later Nikola Tesla stated in an article that "By the use of these waves we may produce an electrical effect from a sending station and determine the position of a moving object, such as a vessel at "sea."

    In the year 1922 Dr. A. H. Taylor and his associate L. C. Young, while conducting some communication experiments at the Naval Research Laboratory near Washington noticed a steamer in the Potomac interfered with their signals. In 1930, as a result of these experiments, the Director of the Naval Research Laboratory submitted a report to the Navy Department titled "Radio -  Echo Signals from Moving Objects."


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