Stories of Technology

Series produced by William S. Hammack

Caption: PRX default Series image
PRX default Series image 

A series of 200+ commentaries on technology and engineering

In 200+ commentaries Bill Hammack explored the technological world. The series was best described by Science magazine:

"Bill Hammack can rhapsodize over the clever design of a soda can or a Scotch tape dispenser. Every week he explores the genesis of ordinary things such as superglue, contact lenses, the Internet, matches, and even SPAM, the canned meat. His light, often humorous essays also provide insight into the cultural forces that speed or hamper the acceptance of new products and the inventors? often unexpected sources of inspiration.? [Science May 17, 2002 p. 1207]

He's revealed the secrets of his high-tech underwear, explored the mysteries of mood rings, probed the perils of nanotechnology, and examined the threats to privacy from technology. Bill's work reflects a humanistic approach: He emphasizes the human dimension to technology - from the trial, tribulations, and triumphs of inventors and scientists to the effect of technology on our daily lives. The commentaries explore the role and ramifications of science and technology within the broader society, and also emphasize the creative aspects of being an engineer. These have appears - in various forms on Marketplace, Illinois Public Radio, and Radio National Australia's Science Show. All were originally produced and broadcast by WILL-AM 580 Urbana, Illinois. They were produced between August 1999 and August 2005.

The series received many journalism, scientific and engineering organizations have recognized his work. He's received the top awards in science journalism: The National Association of Science Writers Science in Society Award, the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award, and the American Chemical Society's Grady-Stack Medal. [See http://www.engineerguy.com/biosheet/awardlist.htm]
----------------------------

*Currently just about 150are on PRX of the commentaries are available, but at 2010 unfolds about 100 more will be commentaries will be listed on PRX.

Hide full description

In 200+ commentaries Bill Hammack explored the technological world. The series was best described by Science magazine:"Bill Hammack can rhapsodize over the clever design of a soda can or a Scotch tape dispenser. Every week he explores the genesis of ordinary things such as superglue, contact lenses, the Internet, matches, and even SPAM, the canned meat. His light, often humorous essays also provide insight into the cultural forces that speed or hamper the acceptance of new products and the inventors? often unexpected sources of inspiration.? [Science May 17, 2002 p. 1207]He's revealed the secrets of his high-tech underwear, explored the mysteries of mood rings, probed the perils of nanotechnology, and examined the threats to privacy from technology. Bill's work reflects a humanistic... Show full description


143 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Caption: PRX default Piece image
We think of strobe photograph as a way to capture a drop of milk or a bullet in flight ... and indeed it did change how we see the world.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:36
Caption: PRX default Piece image
A roller coaster relies on very clever engineering in order to terrify its riders safely.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:32
Caption: PRX default Piece image
Every time I ride in a jet, I look out the window and watch the wing. When I see it's still there, I say a silence thanks to Constance Tipper

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:33
Caption: PRX default Piece image
The Maclaren Stroller: Build like aircraft landing gear.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:26
Caption: PRX default Piece image
Why does everything come to a standstill in a blackout and what still works? The answers: 100 year old technology.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:31
Caption: PRX default Piece image
Is sliced bread really one of the "best things?" Yes!

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:49
Caption: PRX default Piece image
The story of Philo Farnsworth, a farm boy who invented television

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:38
Caption: PRX default Piece image
The story of George Eastman and how he revolutionized photography

Bought by New Hampshire Public Radio


  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:46
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: PRX default Piece image
The story of the Theremin: The first electronic instrument

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:04
Caption: PRX default Piece image
This piece describes how a flu vaccine is prepared; it uses a short history of the deadly 1918 flu to motivate the imporance of yearly vaccine.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:40
Caption: PRX default Piece image
How the technology of accurate throwing separates humankind from the rest of the animal kingdom.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:36
Caption: PRX default Piece image
Thomas Stockham, an electrical engineer, pioneered digital recording.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:43
Caption: PRX default Piece image
Determining the dates of Easter and Passover led directly to our modern calendar.

Bought by Prairie Public, KPTZ, Port Townsend, WA, KZYX, KUFM - Montana Public Radio, XRAY.fm and more


  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:54
  • Purchases: 9
Caption: PRX default Piece image
Does the wood and methods used to make a violin make a difference in its sound?

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 06:32
Caption: PRX default Piece image
Satellite communications came from science fiction. Its inventor wrote science fiction as well as doing electrical engineering.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:24
Caption: PRX default Piece image
The story of the woman who developed a special sound who location can easily be located by humans.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:27
Caption: PRX default Piece image
The inventor of the Nautilus has been described as "among the darkest and crankiest people you're every likely to met."

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:26
Caption: PRX default Piece image
Engineering is part of our western heritage. We often hear of the western Canon in Literature, but our technology also has ancient roots.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:27
Caption: PRX default Piece image
The media often reports the quanity of "proven oil reserves", but don't often nuance what is meant by this.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:44
Caption: PRX default Piece image
Most technological "breakthroughs" aren't breakthroughs at all, instead they are the result of simple, steady engineering.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:35