Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I did not know this.

Ever heard of Hedy Lamarr? If you're a cinema buff, the answer is almost certainly "yes," since Lamarr was quite the success in Hollywood back in the day, not to mention a popular pinup in World War II:


What you may not realize, however, is that Lamarr was more than just a starlet- she was also a successful inventor who pioneered, among other things, spread spectrum communications technologies:

Perhaps it was those restrictions that made Hedy an inventor, or perhaps it was just her intellectual curiosity. Either way, Hedy was inventing things, big and small, right up until she died. There were many utilitarian, small inventions, like a box of tissues that had its own pocket to store used tissues in. And then there was the showstopper: With musician George Antheil, she patented the 'secret communication system' in 1942. The frequency hopping, spread-spectrum invention allowed its users to manipulate radio frequencies. The earliest one used a piano roll to guide the hopping between frequencies. In World War II, it was used to keep torpedoes from being detected or manipulated by enemy forces.

Decades later on, the wide spectrum aspect of the invention formed the basis for the communications boom. Cell phones, Wi-Fi, the modern world as we know it, it all flowed from the original patent that Hedy came up with to fight Nazis.

Pretty neat, eh?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coolest thing I've seen since last Thursday, which you were responsible for bringing my attention to as well.

You've been particularly fun to read the last few days. Maybe you should be swamped with grading more often.

I'm glad you finally remembered your job is to amuse me.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010 2:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met her when she was living in Winter Park, FL, towards the end of her life. It's a long story, but I was a debutante and there was community service involved. Anyway, she was hysterically funny and still so beautiful. I smiled to see that pic of her. Thanks for doing this. :)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010 6:45:00 AM  

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