Wednesday, 24 March 2010

“ Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”

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Happy Ada Lovelace day! Today all over the blogoshpere people are celebrating Ada Lovelace day by writing about their favourite female scientists. You can read all about it here. I decided to write about Hedy Lamarr, as she was a scientist in my own (ex) field of electronics and because she was a major film actress of the 30s and 40s who was also considered the most beautiful woman in the world. And from the pictures you can see why!

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She was born Hedwig Eisler in Vienna in 1914 and married Freidrich Mandl, an arms dealer when she was only 19. He was by all accounts very abusive and stopped her from persuing her film career, even going so far as to try and buy all the copies of a Czech film, Ecstasy, in which she appeared nude. Instead through him she met many scientists and engineers where she learnt about military technology.

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Eventually she escaped from her husband, in some stories she disguised herslef as her maid and ran away, others say she drugged her husband and ran off wearing all her most expensive jewellary! From Vienna she travelled to Paris, then London, and finally Hollywood where she starred in her first American hit, Algiers, in 1938.

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It was with her neighbour, a musician who was interested in the control of automated instruments that she first worked on her major scientific achievement - a secret communication system which used frequency hopping techniques for the first time. This effectively made communications more secure, and signals harder to 'jam'. It was majorly ahead of it's time and only really came in to use in the 1960s, but today it is still used in Wi-Fi networks and cordless phones.

Do you have a favourite female scientist, or any inspirational female figure you admire? There are so many others I could have posted about, and so many I am learning about from the Finding Ada website.

Info thanks to HedyLamarr.com

8 comments:

daisychain said...

Hm, I guess I'm a walking cliche as Audrey Hepburn is the first woman who springs to mind for me.

E is for Eleanor said...

Wow, she sounds amazing! A scientist and an actress- such an odd but brilliant combo!

I love Frida Kahlo and Katherine Hepburn :)

MJ said...

Wow, such a beautiful and talented lady!

My favourite female scientist has to be from within my own field - the palaeontologist Mary Anning. She never had any formal qualifications but excavated hundreds and hundreds of marine reptiles from the Jurassic Blue Lias bed at Lyme Regis: somewhere I've worked myself and dug out my very own marine reptile bone. She really pushed palaeontology at the time, as well as women in science, and I bloody love her!

Sherin said...

What an amazing post. Hedy Lamarr seems like such an amazing woman!

Winnie said...

Ah she is so glamourous!

tor (fabfrocks) said...

Wow I have never heard of this lady but she is beautiful - and brains too! Great post x

Tinky said...

I had no idea until Ada Day that Hedy L. had this other side. Lovely tribute and lovely photos.......

notjustmedical said...

Wow she's stunning and clever! Someone to look up to.

Audrey Hepburn has always been my alltime inspirational figure.

S
http://notjustmedical.wordpress.com