October 8th: Star


Movie star Hedy Lamarr was regarded as the most beautiful woman in the world. But she was more than that. She was creative and curious. She invented an improved traffic stoplight, helped aviator Howard Hughes to speed aeroplanes by inspiring their design on fast fishes and birds, devised a dissolvable tablet to make carbonated water. Most importantly, she revolutionised the field of radio transmissions.

Hedy’s first husband explained to her how easy it was to block US torpedos radio signals. When she understood that the husband was selling weapons to Nazis, she ran away from him -disguised as a maid, the tale says– and moved to Hollywood to continue her career. There, she thought of the frequency-hopping signal -a signal switching between channels- to prevent US torpedoes being jammed by the Hitler’s military. She even invented a device capable of the technique, in order to prove its feasibility.

US Navy overlooked the technique at first. Since it was rediscovered, however, it has been fundamental not only for military scopes but also for more mundane ones, like modern Bluetooth technology.

Hedy Lamarr was a pretty face, sure! But she was also a smart brain. She definitely was a star in different aspects of her life. And ours.

If you are wondering what’s going on here, look at this post: Inking Science

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