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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)

20. Lady of the Lamp
A Radio Talk by Charles F. Kettering

     Today [March 11, 1945], the Red Cross is appealing to the American people for continued support for its magnificent work of alleviating human pain and suffering the World over. We perhaps can better appreciate just what this means in time of War, by a brief review of the career of a woman who nearly 100 years ago opened the eyes of the World to the new science of nursing. We know her as Florence Nightingale, but to the soldiers she was better known as the Angel of Crimea or simply as the Lady of the Lamp.

Florence Nightingale     Florence Nightingale was born 125 years ago in Florence, Italy. Unlike so many of our other pioneers, she was the daughter of wealthy English parents and reared more or less in luxury. As a young woman, she became somewhat of a problem to her parents. They saw she was not happy in being just a young lady of fashion. She had, what was to them, an unhealthy and unnatural interest in Nursing. Nursing in those days was far from what we know today. A hundred years ago the majority of hospitals were centers of misery, suffering and in too many cases, dirt.

     But, despite all this, Florence still wanted to be a nurse, and finally persuaded her parents to let her attend the Deaconess Training School at Kaiserwerth in Germany. For two years she studied and worked under rigorous conditions but in. stead of being discouraged, she wrote her mother, "This is Life! I wish for no other world but this."


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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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