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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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What do Hedy Lamarr, avant-garde composer George Antheil, and your cell phone have in common? The answer is spread-spectrum radio: a revolutionary inven­tion based on the rapid switching of communications sig­nals among a spread of different frequencies. Without this technology, we would not have the digital comforts that we take for granted today. Only a writer of Richard Rhodes's caliber could do justice to this remarkable story. Unhappily married to a Nazi arms dealer, Lamarr fled to America at the start of World War II; she brought with her not only her theatrical talent but also a gift for technical innovation. An introduction to Antheil at a Hollywood dinner table culminated in a U.S. patent for a jam- proof radio guidance system for torpedoes--the unlikely duo's gift to the U.S. war effort. What other book brings together 1920s Paris, player pianos, Nazi weaponry, and digital wireless into one satisfying whole? In its juxtaposition of Hollywood glamour with the reality of a brutal war, Hedy's Folly is a riveting book about 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. ;,22 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Richard Rhodes
ISBN: 9780385534383
0385534388
Branch Call Number: 791.43028092 L216r 2011
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Report This 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

Report This 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.

Report This 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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