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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)

46.  George Washington
Patriot, Statesman and Scientist

A Radio Talk by
Charles F. Kettering

Declaration     Last Tuesday, Americans at home and abroad paid tribute to the men who drew up the Declaration of Independence. These men realized that they were embarking on a struggle of life or death. But they had Freedom and the hope of Constitutional government as their goal. They also knew that it would require all of their physical resources and ingenuity to win. No one appreciated these facts more than the Commander - George Washington. Fortunately, for us today, Washington was a long range thinker. He realized that Governmental enthusiasm and idealism were practically worthless unless they were backed up by physical things such as guns, ammunition and other military equipment.

     Compared to England, our resources in those days were small - both in men and material, but we did have a peculiar kind of mechanical ingenuity. This was, in a way, a product of our environment. A gun was not an ornament over the fireplace - it served as a means of subsistence and a weapon against the constant threat of hostile Indians. Consequently these ingenious pioneers developed a gun unlike any other in the world. By 1750 skilled Pennsylvania gunsmiths had produced a very light and accurate rifle far superior to the heavy musket then in military use. Equipped with this unique rifle the men of the Colonies in the next twenty-five years became the most deadly sharpshooters in the world. When the Revolution came along, Washington sent out a call and ten companies of riflemen responded. These experts proved to be the backbone of the Continental Army. It was the combination of these new rifles and Washington's strategy that paved the way to final Victory.


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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

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