Monday, 9 February 2015
Inventing: a good use of a woman's time
Like many inventors, Hedy Lamarr had a day job to support her science habit. (Unlike many of her coworkers, Hedy was not into the drunken party scene--smart woman.) By night, when her co-workers were off getting blotto, she'd spend hours in her home laboratory coming up with cool gadgets.
Now that is a good use of a woman's time. (Oh, by the way, she starred in movies as her day job.)
Okay, so Hedy wasn't a complete recluse. She did go out and be sociable from time to time. So it was at a friend's dinner party she met one George Antheil, who had a similar day job to Hedy, but also shared her love of inventing things.
She invited him over to her lab, where they had a lot of fun on a project that eventually became known as U.S. Patent Number 2,292,387.
See, Hedy had a social conscience. She cared about people. One of the concerns that weighed heavily on her mind was the impact of World War II on innocent lives. Also, she had a strong dislike for the Nazis. Annoyed at their wartime antics (killing children and kicking puppies!), she and her sidekick George came up with a Secret Communications System. Today we know this technology as spread-spectrum communication technology. Essentially, it bounces signals about different carrier wave frequencies so they can't be jammed by Nazis or Communists or the Irish (I'm kidding about the Irish).
The technology was used during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and it is used today in Mobile (Cellular) Phone technology.
It's a shame that she didn't receive recognition for her work at the time. Instead, she was told to leave the thinking to men, and to use her face to sell war bonds.
Fine, she said, and proceeded to raise a staggering US$7,000,000 in one evening. Then she went back to where she felt she belonged--inventing stuff.
Do not mess with Hedy Lamarr.
You must read more about Hedy Lamarr and the impact of her cool invention.
Her Grace has a soft spot for people who invent things. She loves hearing, "There must be a better way."