Q: What Hollywood movie star of the 1930s and 40s known for her pin-up posters during World War II developed the technology that makes wireless communication possible today?

A: Hedy Lamarr, once considered the most beautiful woman in the world and star of Samson and Delilah and Ziegfeld Girls invented and patented a frequency-hopping device that allowed torpedoes to be remotely controlled and today allows for multi-channel digital communications. Her invention, part of the war effort to defeat the Nazis was so militarily sensitive that the patent remained classified until 1985.

March honors both Women’s History and Engineers making it a fitting occasion to honor inventors like Hedy Lamarr who fit into both categories. Other role models in STEM careers—that’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are being featured this month on the ScienceBlogs website. You can read about Jane Goodall, Virginia Apgar, Sally Ride and others.

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And if you are interested in the fascinating life of Hedy Lamarr and how her investigation into breast augmentation led to the development of the frequency-hopping device look for Hedy Lamarr
The Scientific Career of a Silver Screen Star”
in the Facts on File database Today’s Science. The Hedy Lamarr Foundation provides more details and “plans to deliver educational and inspirational information that promotes self-discovery and social accountability” at HedyLamarr.org.

Image from the Official Site of Hedy Lamarr, hedylamarr.com.

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