Hedy Lamarr is today's Google doodle, and here's why
You may have noticed that today’s Google doodle is pretty flashy indeed, featuring a woman in a mint-green dress standing on flashing lights. And if you use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or GPS on a regular basis, you can thank the woman in the mint-green dress for that.
That’s right: Hedy Lamarr, who would be 101 today, is the reason why you can use your computer in coffee shops, listen to music via your unplugged phone in the car, or go on a big road trip without unfurling any complicated maps.
Lamarr was first in the spotlight due to her acting, as well as her beauty. She has been called “the most beautiful woman in the world” and was in major films with stars like Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, and Spencer Tracy. She was talented and daring on screen, but she was even more amazing off screen. She wanted to make a difference in this world. “Any girl can be glamorous,” she once said. “All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”
She was sick of being typecast on the big screen and being known only for her looks and acting abilities, so she decided to devote her life to something entirely different: science.
“Hedy didn’t drink. She didn’t like to party,” Richard Rhodes, author of Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, told NPR in 2011. “Her idea of a good evening was a quiet dinner party with some intelligent friends where they could discuss ideas. . .she was constantly looking at the world and thinking, ‘Well, how could that be fixed? How could that be improved?'”
Hedy wanted to help during the World War II efforts against the Nazis, and began work on a secret communications system. After teaming up with her neighbor, composer George Antheil, she worked on a “frequency-hopping system” based on piano keys that would prevent enemies from being able to detect radio messages, according to CNN.
Due to technology limitations, the idea wasn’t able to be used until after the war, but they did receive a patent for it — and it ended up being the groundwork for various technologies we use today.
“She’s just so cool,” Google’s Jennifer Hom, who researched Hedy to create the Google doodle, told CNN. “She was very complicated and very accomplished at the same time. . . She was really curious and had an active intellect and she was always trying to learn. I like to think of her as superhero figure where you have a daytime personality and a nighttime personality.”
In 2000, Hedy passed away at the age of 86, but our lives will forever be changed by her invention. Not only was her brain essential to creating many modern technologies we use today, but she is an inspiration for women in tech — a symbol of how essential it is to make the tech industry an open and accepting place for women. Hedy can truly be considered one of the very first leaders of the digital age, thinking outside the box before its very birth.
“Hope and curiosity about the future seemed better than guarantees,” she once said, according to her estate’s website. “That’s the way I was. The unknown was always so attractive to me… and still is.”
(Image via Google/MGM/Wikipedia.)