Jan

06

She was once called “undoubtedly…the most beautiful woman on earth.” But Austrian-American Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr (November 9, 1913 – January 19, 2000) was also one of the most important mathematical minds of the 20th century.

In 1940, shortly after leaving her arms-dealer husband and escaping to Hollywood from Nazi Europe, Lamarr befriended composer George Antheil and his wife. With her knowledge of munitions and interest in mathematics, she came up with the idea for a radio that hopped frequencies, allowing for torpedoes to be controlled remotely without detection. Antheil envisioned a way to do this with a coded ribbon reminiscent of a player piano strip. The two spent a year in phone calls, napkin sketches, and prototypes scrapped together on Hedy’s living room floor, until they finally perfected the concept and filed a patent for a “secret communication system” in 1941.

Hedy was only 28.

Her frequency-hopping invention laid the foundation for wireless communication long before computers and provided the basis for modern-day technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth. Lamarr went on to make 18 films between 1940 and 1949, including Hollywood’s highest-grossing movie of 1949, in addition to mothering two children.

331 notes

  1. imtheembers reblogged this from idhren
  2. neithan reblogged this from earthlyflower
  3. earthlyflower reblogged this from thereconstructionists
  4. idhren reblogged this from thereconstructionists
  5. jacquigrainger reblogged this from thereconstructionists
  6. treesandtea reblogged this from thereconstructionists
  7. keep-on-chooglin reblogged this from blackdiamonds14
  8. blackdiamonds14 reblogged this from gr00ve-tube-42
  9. gr00ve-tube-42 reblogged this from thoughtfulcynic
  10. motovenere reblogged this from spensierata-dc
  11. salpiannajones reblogged this from whitewingedalbatross
  12. waywren reblogged this from whitewingedalbatross
  13. whitewingedalbatross reblogged this from thereconstructionists
  14. selfrescuingprincesssociety reblogged this from thereconstructionists and added:
    On this day, 99 years ago, the brilliant and beautiful Hedy Lamarr was born.
  15. o-g-steve reblogged this from thereconstructionists
  16. spensierata-dc reblogged this from indianaorchid
  17. indianaorchid reblogged this from thereconstructionists
  18. luciferandmoiravalcour reblogged this from thereconstructionists
  19. a-celestial-spark reblogged this from gender-and-science
  20. missmarpling reblogged this from thereconstructionists
  21. my-sun-is-your-sun reblogged this from thereconstructionists
  22. better-than-regular reblogged this from heyholden
  23. heyholden reblogged this from ofcourseimafeminist
  24. kitesh reblogged this from women-in-science
  25. kiwi2hz reblogged this from gender-and-science