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Short Stories of Science and Invention

A Collection of Radio Talks by
Charles F. Kettering


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)

13. Orukter Amphibolos
A Radio Talk by Charles F. Kettering

   Once in awhile, someone makes a prophecy that comes true with remarkable accuracy many years later. Tennyson, over 100 years ago in the poem "Locksley Hall," described "The nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue," and Jules Verne had written "Around The World in 80 Days." These men used their imaginations - but their concepts were not factual enough to include things as they are actually happening today. These ideas or predictions though very interesting, usually have to wait a long time until some practical man can give them a physical form. The first concept of an idea is one thing - the working model is another, and as every inventor knows, popular acceptance - still another.

Duck     But occasionally we see a fine example of a man's practical thinking that was a century or more ahead of industry. As a case in point, let us take that military vehicle called the "Duck." This unique land and water conveyance has been developed during this war to make possible invasion of enemy territory. Its versatility lies in the fact that it can leave a ship offshore and travel through the water as a boat. Upon reaching the land, it goes ashore and continues its course as a truck - it can go from land to sea just as easily.

     Recently, in Philadelphia, thousands of people lined Market Street and the banks of the Schuylkill River to watch a "Duck" travel along the street, slide into the water and proceed up the river. It was an amazing demonstration.


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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton

by Ian Ellis
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