News / Science & Technology

Radio Essays Explore Technological Creativity

Greg Flakus

There are mechanisms in nature as well as in human endeavors like engineering and art. Since 1988, the creative manipulation of these mechanisms has been explored in short radio essays about the history of technology called “The Engines of Our Ingenuity.”

The man behind the series is retired University of Houston engineering professor, John Lienhard, who broadcasts his essays Monday through Friday from the university's public radio station, KUHF.  Through the Internet, he now has fans all over the world.

“The University of Houston College of Engineering presents this series about the machines that make our civilization run and the people whose ingenuity created them," said Lienhard.

John Lienhard captures the imagination of listeners every week with stories about such technological achievements as China's Great Wall.

“It probably did serve the purpose of keeping invaders out, but it was finished just as the new cannons were being perfected; artillery was about to put an end to all great walls," he reads into a microphone.

His fans marvel at his ability to explore technology and other subjects in ways that are often unexpected.

“People want to be surprised," he said. "If the story is expected, it will be dull, ipso facto [by its very nature].”

Lienhard achieves surprise by looking into old books and engineering manuals for information about technology that changed the world.

“The trick is to jump from one thread of context to another thread of context and show that this thing links to this thing in an unexpected way," said Lienhard.

“The Engines of Our Ingenuity” is broadcast Monday through Friday and it is gaining a worldwide audience online. Lienhard says he hopes the program has helped make science and engineering accessible to more people.

“The Internet has changed that radically, because now everybody can know something about science, everybody can know something about technology," he said.

At 81, Lienhard now relies on other contributors to write some of the essays, but he says he still enjoys telling stories that both entertain and educate.

“Learning is like invention in that way," said Lienhard. "If we can bring people to the fun of it, to the pleasure of mental exercise and mental accomplishment, if we can do that, then the game is ours.”

Many of the essays are available in Spanish online at kuhf.org.

There have been 2,750 three-and-a-half-minute episodes of “Engines of Our Ingenuity,” with many more to come.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More