Monday, November 27, 2017

A Wonder Woman

In my continued attempt to start each week with Not Awful News (which, of course, is so much better than so-called Fake News), here is a little slice of inspiration. This viral Twitter post got me looking into the life of silver screen legend Hedy Lamarr, who would have turned 103 earlier this month. The actress was widely considered one of the most beautiful women in the world during her heyday from the 1930s to 1950s. She starred as Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille’s famed “Samson and Delilah” and numerous other hits. But what you probably don’t know (other than the fact that her first name is actually Hedwig), is that she was also a talented inventor and self-taught scientist.

In fact, in 1942 during World War II Hedy along with composer George Antheil invented a “Secret Communication System” to help guide torpedoes that is widely considered to be a precursor to the wireless spread spectrum technology of today that includes Bluetooth, GPS, cell service and wifi. I know, right?

The Navy didn’t apply her work during WWII, but in the 1960s it rediscovered her patent and started applying the technology for military purposes. Decades later, in 1997, her contributions to the field were honored with an Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award.

It’s like the phrase “not just another pretty face” was made for her. Wait, scratch that, it’s like the phrase “not just another pretty face” was made for all women because our society continues to judge us based on our appearance as if we’re just objects to be ogled while men do the important work, but surprise we have brains that work and ideas that can change the world if only you will take us seriously and listen instead of imagining us naked for one goddamn second. And with that, happy Monday, kittens.


Carmen SanDiego said...

Hedy was such a bad ass
Happy Monday DS. I'm taking my American citizenship test today. Good luck to me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post on Hedy, DS. Some of us learned these very things about her back in the 60's/70's, but it was only a year or two ago that I realized I'd like to see a statue erected to her, perhaps in the Capitol Rotunda, where there currently sit numerous statues of men? Other facts about her: She became an American citizen, had a lovely low voice and dripped intelligence whenever she opened her mouth in her later films. (Crushing yet?) What I hope to see before I go is a formalized tribute to her, and would like it even better if that act heralded the beginning of an Era in which women pay homage to women as readily as men pay homage to men. We don't just live with the profoundly annoying "bury your gays" tradition; we live every unwitting day with a blank slate produced by the much older tradition of "bury the achievements of women." It's great to see Hedy come to yet more people's attention since she, I have every reason to believe, is just the tip of the iceberg!

Jonathan said...

Good luck :)

Anonymous said...

She was Austrian!

Cathy said...

Yes, she was Austrian! So was Hitler. While in the U.S., Lamarr conceived of her invention to help stop his terrifying rise to power. And - as Anonymous said - she became an American citizen; that is, applied for and received American citizenship.

Beryl said...

check out Project 100, which is working to elect 100 progressive women to Congress by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.