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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)

16. The Silent Service
A Radio Talk by Charles F. Kettering

    We often called the recent conflict a mechanized war but Winston Churchill, also had this to say - "This is a V-boat war - hard and bitter - a war of science and seamanship." And the events certainly confirmed this - we learned to combat as well as use the submarine. In the Pacific, our American submarines alone sank over 900 Japanese ships.

    The submarine came about by a process of evolution. It is the culmination of over 500 years of study and research on the part of many men in many countries. We know that even before the time of Columbus, an unknown inventor built a submarine boat to smuggle men across a river, and in 1586 an Italian, Ganibelli, destroyed a bridge near Antwerp using a nearly submerged boat loaded with gun powder.

Turtle

    About the time the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, Van Drebbel, a Dutchman, invented the first under water boat to carry a crew. Symons, an Englishman, over a hundred years later contributed the idea of. using leather water bottles as adjustable ballast tanks, And David Bushnell of George Washington's day equipped his one man submarine, "The Turtle," with a screw propeller. Robert Fulton in 1805 demonstrated a torpedo-carrying submarine blowing up a 200-ton brig thereby showing the military possibilities of the device.

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