Celebrating 19 Years on the Web
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History Home

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)

18. Ancient Battleground
A Radio Talk by Charles F. Kettering

    During the War, Metz appeared frequently in the reports from the battlefronts - the Allied armies had it under siege. The history of Metz is interesting because it is so typical of many other European cities. Our country is comparatively young and it is difficult for us to appreciate that this city had already been a battle­ground for 1500 years before Amer­ica was discovered.

Roman    It all started as a matter of geog­raphy. Over 2,000 years ago, an ancient tribe of Gauls decided to settle at a likely looking spot on the Moselle River. The surrounding country was fer­tile and the town prospered and grew. We first hear of it in Julius Caesar's account of the Gallic Wars when he captured it in about the year 55 B.C. They called the place Mediomatrica which was later shortened to Metz. The Ro­mans, as was the custom, built forts around the city and installed an aqueduct to supply water.

    For several hundred years the town grew until in the 5th century it was plundered by Attila's Huns. Then for centuries Metz became a battleground for warring peoples - ­the French to the south and the Germans to the north. For 1500 years this city has been torn between two civilizations and, as a conse­quence, has literally armed itself to the teeth with forts and other de­fenses to protect itself from attack either north or south.


- 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

who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.