Stories of Technology

Series produced by William S. Hammack

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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]
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*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.

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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
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A history of the "black boxes" used in airplanes. They were inspired by Swing music.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:47
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The Lego toy company has hit hard times with the advent of electronic toys.

Bought by Kansas Public Radio


  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:29
  • Purchases: 1
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Robert Harris's novel Pompeii does an incredible job of teaching about Roman Civil engineering and waterworks, although make no mistake, this alway...

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:44
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The story of velcro: Invited by a Swiss engineer who came up with the idea while walking with his dog in the woods. de Mestral observed that his wo...

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:29
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The message of Fahrenheit 451 in the age of DVD and electronic books: We run the risk that the literary and intellectual canon of the coming centur...

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 03:34
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As terrorist uses more sophisticated technology we face a Faustian bargain in using technology to track them.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:45
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Tivo changes the financial model for televsion

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:44
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Boeing's 7E7 jet - now the 787 - uses high tech to use less fuel

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:51
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A Nobel Prize winner called the disappearance of Erector sets a "disaster of modern life." He considered their replacement by Legos to herald the "...

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:44
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Vaseline was first sold as a cure-all for all types of ills.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:38
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Cruise control was invited by a blind engineer.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:31
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The story of the global positioning system

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:50
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The story of the invention of the Geiger Counter.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 03:07
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The story of the invention of the phillips screw.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:43
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The cleverness and ingenuity of engineering in designing objects for mass production.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:27
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It seems like we live in a time where things become obsolete quickly, but for every eight-track tape that has gone by the way side, there are age-o...

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:47
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The escapment - the essential part of a mechanical clock that makes to go tick, tock - changed the world by allowing humans to move away from the c...

Bought by WJFF


  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:43
  • Purchases: 1
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The lessons from the August 14, 2003 blackout of the United States and Canada.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 03:01
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Tunneling through the ground has a long and important history in human affairs.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:45
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What risks do we run from living in a high tech society. They likely different that you'd expect.

  • Added: Nov 02, 2009
  • Length: 02:51