Hedy Lamarr worried her pretty head

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Slate published a review of Richard Rhodes’ new book, Hedy’s Folly, which illuminated a creative side to the actress most widely known for her beauty. Of all things, she was apparently something of an inventor.

Lamarr envisioned airplanes controlling torpedoes remotely, flying high above them and adjusting their direction with radio pulses. This setup had some precedent in Nazi Germany, and Rhodes suspects that Hedy overheard the idea from Mandl. But torpedoes could receive radio instructions only on one predetermined radio frequency. If the enemy figured out that frequency, he could jam transmission, flooding the signal with noise and sending the torpedo off-course. Lamarr had an idea of how to circumvent this threat. Both plane and torpedo would jump in tandem to different frequencies over and over, much like turning a radio dial every few seconds. So even if the enemy jammed one frequency, it wouldn’t matter, since both sender and receiver would soon switch to another.
I'm just gonna go work on my Middle East Peace Treaty right ... now.



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