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Hedy's Folly

The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World
Rhodes, Richard (Book - 2011 )
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Hedy's Folly
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Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes delivers a remarkable story of science history: how a ravishing film star and an avant-garde composer invented spreadDASHspectrum radio, the technology that made wireless phones, GPS systems, and many other devices possible. Beginning at a Hollywood dinner table, Hedy's Folly tells a wild story of innovation that culminates in U.S. patent number 2,292,387 for a "secret communication system." Along the way Rhodes weaves together delete comma Hollywood's golden era, the history of Vienna, 1920s Paris, weapons design, music, a tutorial on patent law and a brief treatise on transmission technology. Narrated with the rigor and charisma we've come to expect of Rhodes, it is a remarkable narrative adventure about spreadDASHspectrum radio's genesis and unlikely amateur inventors collaborating to change the world.
Authors: Rhodes, Richard, 1937-
Title: Hedy's folly
the life and breakthrough inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the most beautiful woman in the world
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, c2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
Characteristics: ix, 261 p., [8] p. of plates :,ill., music ;,22 cm.
ISBN: 9780307742957
0385534388
9780385534383
Statement of Responsibility: Richard Rhodes
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 238-246) and index.
Subject Headings: Spread spectrum communications. Motion picture actors and actresses United States Biography. Actresses United States Biography. Lamarr, Hedy, 1913-2000.
Topical Term: Spread spectrum communications.
Motion picture actors and actresses
Actresses
LCCN: 2011021746
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Comment by: rlbecker Mar 14, 2012

This was a fascinating book. It talked about Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress, but only to set up the story of her inventions. She and a music composer friend came up with spread spectrum technology in an attempt to help out the US navy with torpedoes, which the navy rejected. The got a patent ... Read More »


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Apr 11, 2014
  • marydave rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Deceptive advertising: the breakthrough invention(s) received short shrift. I was hoping for more science, less romance!

A mind-opening and entertaining read for cellphone/GPS/WiFi users who are curious to know how their gadgets work.

Hedy’s earlier film Ecstasy went viral; she was courted by and married an international arms trader; bored as a potiche, she escaped to Hollywood, befriended a bad boy music composer and together they invented the basis of modern day telecommunication technology.

Simply put, when two moving objects (airplane-torpedo, satellite-cellphone user) communicate with just one frequency, their signal can be easily intercepted and jammed. Their solution is synchronized frequency hopping, now called spread spectrum, i.e. transmitter and receiver rapidly switch from one frequency to another to prevent jamming. Today’s cell phones and many other telecommunication devices work on the same principle with microwaves instead of radio waves. Years ago, radio was called wireless, now it’s Wi-Fi, déjà-vu? Read the 3-4 page Introduction, like? Read the Afterword, still like? Then enjoy the whole enchilada!

"Among the most intriguing bits of Hollywood lore is the real-life story of Hedwig Kiesler, the Vienna-born Jewish actress who fled Nazi Germany for America, where she reinvented herself as Hedy Lamarr. However, her movie star persona wasn't her only invention: to support the U.S. war effort, this savvy siren of the silver screen teamed up with avant-garde composer George Antheil to develop a technology known as frequency-hopping spread spectrum - an invention that would ultimately pave the way for bar code readers, cell phones, Wi-Fi, and GPS." March 2013 Biography and Memoir newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=613005

Mar 14, 2012
  • rlbecker rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This was a fascinating book. It talked about Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress, but only to set up the story of her inventions. She and a music composer friend came up with spread spectrum technology in an attempt to help out the US navy with torpedoes, which the navy rejected. The got a patent on the technology, however, and it proved to be the basis for wireless phones, Bluetooth networks, GPS devices, and military communications. I learned a lot and enjoyed finding out what drove her to invent while still being an actress. The book is a little slow at first, but picks up as it goes along.

Jan 26, 2012
  • tootsierollpop rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Such a beautiful woman, it is somehow stunning that she is also very smart, intelligent and scientific.

Take a close look at the cover art. It looks as if she is retaining water in her ankles...that shoe strap looks buried behind a roll of fat, lol.

Well, I had to find something wrong with her, didn't I?

Seriously, for those of us interested in patents on hopping frequencies as they relate to radio controlled torpedoes will find this book fascinating.

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