Remembering the engineer and mathematician — Hedy Lamarr revisited

GOOGLE reminded us, today would have been Hedy Lamarr’s 101st birthday. Here’s why I remember Hedy Lamarr.

Hedy Lamarr

Born in Austria in 1914, the mathematically talented Lamarr moved to the US in 1937 to start a Hollywood career. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, she was considered one of cinema’s leading ladies and made numerous films; however, her passion for engineering is far less known today. Her interest in inventing was such that she set up an engineering room in her house complete with a drafting table and wall of engineering reference books.

With the outbreak of World War II, Lamarr wanted to apply her skills to helping the war effort and, motivated by reports of German U-boats sinking ships in the Atlantic, she began investigating ways to improve torpedo technology. After Lamar met composer George Antheil, who had been experimenting with automated control of musical instruments, together they hit on the idea of “frequency hopping.” At the time, radio-controlled torpedoes could easily be detected and jammed by broadcasting interference at the frequency of the control signal, thereby causing the torpedo to go off course. Frequency hopping essentially served to encrypt the control signal because it was impossible for a target to scan and jam all of the frequencies.

Lamarr and Antheil were granted a patent for their invention on August 11, 1942, but the US Navy wasn’t interested in applying their groundbreaking technology until twenty years later when it was used on military ships during a blockade of Cuba in 1962. Lamarr and Antheil’s frequency-hopping concept serves as a basis for the spread-spectrum communication technology used in GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. Unfortunately, Lamarr’s part in its development has been largely overlooked and her efforts weren’t recognized until 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave her an award for her technological contributions. Hedy Lamarr passed away in 2000 at the age of 85.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Worried citizen calls 911 – coppers start out confused, end up chuckling

Usually, calling the cops when you see a child being put inside the trunk of a car is a reasonable response. Watch carefully, though, if that car is a Tesla Model S.

On Oct. 30, a neighbor saw a man stuffing a child into the trunk of a car. They called 911. YouTube user Henry Wettstein uploaded security camera footage of what happened next. Police responded, thinking that a kidnapping or at least a serious case of neglect was occurring. Two cruisers immediately descended on the driver as he pulled his Tesla into a driveway. The cops seem tense and are all business in the video, until he opened the trunk and pulled out a little girl.

“Are there seats in there?” one of the officers asked. “Nice. I like that.” The cops have a relieved laugh with the family, though they still ask the man for identification. The rear-facing seats are a $3,000 option on the Model S. The seats are the perfect size for children who love the novelty of backwards travel. They are almost like jump seats. They fold up when not in use and even include a five-point harness style seat belt.

Yup. Don’t hesitate to call the cops if you think someone, a child, anyone is in danger. But, look first and see if that someone putting a child in the boot – is driving electric and upscale.

AQUAFINA bottled water is tap water


Same as it ever was

The label on Aquafina water bottles will soon be changed to spell out that the drink comes from the same source as tap water, the brand’s owner PepsiCo said…

A group called Corporate Accountability International has been pressuring bottled water sellers to curb what it calls misleading marketing practices.

Aquafina is the single biggest bottled water brand, and its bottles are now labeled “P.W.S.” The new labels will spell out “public water source.”

See – there was nothing deceptive there. Doesn’t everybody know that “P.W.S.” stands for “public water source”?

Superb example of selling crap products, lying about the crap products, making profits out the wazoo — and absolutely no sanctions applied by any government body other than clarifying one of the lies.

Thanks, Ursarodinia