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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)

24.  A Man Who Groped in the Dark
A Radio Talk by
Charles F. Kettering

Composer    As we listen to fine music, you probably wonder, just the same as many others, what kind of person the composer was and how he arrived at the combination of notes and intervals that resulted in this particular composition. We are sure that back of it there are long hours of cut and try, discouragement and hard work. We hear only the successes.

    I wish we could see the great amount of patient work that is required and the great amount of discarded material which is necessary to produce one of these successes.

Columbus    Composition, development and invention are not new things. The procedure used is as old as mankind itself. However, there is a certain amount of dramatic appeal to discovery inasmuch as it always includes the element of surprise. It is often the result of starting out to do one thing and ending up with something different. Columbus, of course, is the classical example of this. He started out to find a new route to India, and discovered America.

    Many years ago, I read a story which had a great effect on me and whenever I think of men groping blindly to find things, it always comes to my mind. The story is about a man by the name of Bernard Palissey who lived in the southwest of France about four hundred years ago. He was jack-of-all-trades - surveyor, painter, a worker in glass and, in addition, he was a nature lover.


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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
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- 90 -
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Andre Ampere
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- 80 -
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Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
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Erwin Schrodinger
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Louis Pasteur
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- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
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Robert Fulton
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Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
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- 60 -
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Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
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- 50 -
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Rachel Carson
Max Planck
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Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
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JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
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- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
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James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
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Hippocrates
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Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
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