Some know Hedy Lamarr from her Hollywood days. Everyone should know what she invented.
How a Hollywood "It Girl" took her dreams seriously and wound up laying the foundation for so much technology we still use today.
Hedy Lamarr was a movie star.
It would be her 101st birthday today, and Google has rightly chosen to honor her with an amazing Google Doodle that chronicles her adventurous life.
Lamarr was a total hot commodity in Hollywood. If you look around the Internet, you'll find lots of images of her makin' out with famous dudes from the '40s.
But she wasn't just kickin' it with James Stewart and the like on-screen. Nope. Lamarr was also an incredible inventor.
She once said, "All creative people want to do the unexpected."
Let's be real: It was the 1940s, and no one was expecting a famous movie starlet to up and invent a torpedo radio system with the goal of fighting the Germans during World War II. But she did!
When she heard that a a German sub had torpedoed two boats carrying British children to Canada to avoid the Blitz, she was horrified.
Before Hedy became a famous movie star, she was married to an Austrian military arms merchant. And while her arms-dealing husband was chatting about weapons ... Hedy was listening. So when she got fed up with hearing about all the crappy news of the war, she called upon her own talents to make a difference.
First stop: torpedoes!
Torpedoes back then were controlled by radio signals, which meant they were easily jammed easily by evil German submarines. And Hedy was not there for that.
So she teamed up with George Antheil, a pianist and composer, and they came up with a solution.
Watch the radio signal skip around. It's practically UN-JAMMABLE!
If it looks a bit like piano music, you'd be on track. Using a player-piano mechanism, they created a radio system that could jump frequencies, making it essentially jam-proof.
Lamarr and Antheil got a patent for their idea in 1942, in the middle of Hedy's career as a Hollywood star! And even though the U.S. military didn't use the technology until the '60s, the work they did laid the foundation for the complex radio communications that are behind cellphones, Wi-Fi, satellite tech, and more.
Hedy always followed her passion to create, no matter what.
Not only did she make space in her life to play and invent, but she took herself seriously.
She saw something she wanted to change, so she did it. She got her patent. She made a difference.
Watch her Google Doodle, made by Google's Jennifer Hom :