The film biography ‘Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story’ is released in the UK on 8 March, International Women’s Day. Alongside her acting career, Lamarr was a talented inventor, and her solution for guiding torpedoes influenced the wireless communications essential to modern life, including GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

The recent 90th Academy Awards ceremony celebrated the best and brightest talents from across the global film industry. But if any of the Oscar recipients held a patent as well as a golden statuette they kept it quiet on the red carpet. Over 70 years ago one of the silver screen’s most celebrated actors, Hedy Lamarr, was also a patent-holding inventor whose work has had an immeasurable impact on modern life.

Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna, Lamarr launched her film career in Berlin before being brought to Hollywood by Louise B. Mayer in 1938. She soon became famous for her roles as an exotic femme fatale in films such as Algiers and Samson and Delilah, often given very few lines. The resulting boredom reputedly led her to start inventing.

Largely self-taught, Lamarr had a table set up in her dressing table where she could work on her ideas, like a tissue disposal attachment for tissue boxes. She dated aviation Howard Hughes who supported her ‘tinkering’ by giving her access to scientists and engineers. When she worked on a cube that could be added to water to make a sparkling drink, Hughes ‘lent her a pair of chemists’, but their contribution couldn’t stop it from tasting like Alka-Seltzer. At the other end of the scale, Lamarr helped Hughes modify his aircraft designs to make them faster, studying the aerodynamics of birds and fish to make the wings more streamlined and efficient.

Spread spectrum pioneer: the invention of a technology vital to the modern world

During World War II, Lamarr helped promote the sale of war bonds, but wanted to do something more practical to help, especially after she heard of the sinking of the transport ship SS City of Benares, which had been carrying 90 child evacuees from the UK to Canada.

She had gained knowledge of torpedoes from her first husband Friedrich Mandl, an Austrian arms manufacturer and prominent fascist, and learnt that the radio signals that control them could be jammed, sending them off course. Lamarr was great friends with avant-garde composer and polymath George Antheil who had developed a method of programming 16 player pianos from a central console. This represented perfectly the idea she had for a synchronised a sender and receiver for torpedoes controlled by frequency-hopping signals that would enable them to avoid enemy jamming.

Lamarr and Mandl jointly submitted patent number US2292387A with Lamarr using her name from her marriage to her second husband, Hedy Kiesler Markey, and it was awarded in 1941. The US Navy never adopted the technology during the course of the war, either due to its reluctance to embrace technology developed outside of the military or its inability to see beyond the use of a piano roll-inspired coded tape. However, in 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, the Navy started using an updated version of the ‘spread spectrum’ technology on its ships.

The influence of Lamarr and Mandl’s work can be seen today Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, spurring the digital communications technology that forms the backbone of mobile phone networks.

Lamarr’s inventiveness stayed with her until late in life. She proposed a new type of traffic light, a system to help movement-impaired people get out of the bath, a glow-in-the-dark dog collar, a skin-tautening technique and modifications to the design of the Concorde supersonic aircraft.

While she received little recognition in her lifetime beyond her on-screen career, her contribution has become widely appreciated in recent years. In 1997 she and Antheil were awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award, and Lamarr became the first female recipient of the BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award for inventors.

Lamarr and Antheil were inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014, the year that would have been her 100th birthday. The following year Lamarr’s inventions were celebrated in arguably the best animated Google Doodle of all time.

This International Women’s Day the release of ‘Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story’ serves as a timely reminder that a woman who was best known in her lifetime for her looks had talent that ran as deep as the torpedoes her invention guided.

Forget all about cryptocurrencies now we know 50 Cent doesn’t have any

2018 has been quite a year for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general.

First the value of Bitcoin is about half what it was in December 2017, but its falling value hasn’t stopped people and companies attempting to cash in on the notoriety surrounding cryptocurrencies.

We’ve already had to put up with KodakCoin, PutinCoin and Whoppercoin, which is a cryptocurrency only for buying Burger King Whoppers, but probably more disappointing than all of those stories is the news that 50 Cent lied about being a Bitcoin millionaire.

In court documents reported on by The Blast, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson admitted that he never owned BitCoin, and only went along with an incorrect report from TMZ who said he did because “so long as a press story is not irreparably damaging to my image or brand, I usually do not feel the need to publicly deny the reporting.

He added: “This is particularly true when I feel the press report in question is favourable to my image or brand, even if the report is based on a misunderstanding of the facts or contains outright falsehoods.”

Featured image courtesy of Marcin Kadziolka / Shutterstock.com

50 was forced to deny owning Bitcoin to refute the idea that he failed to disclose alleged interests in the cryptocurrency while he is involved in a bankruptcy.

Initial reports, somewhat confirmed by Jackson, suggested he had earned millions in bitcoin after allowing his 2014 album, “Animal Ambition,” to accept the cryptocurrency as payment.

Reports suggested he banked 700 bitcoins, which was valued to be worth between $7 million and $8 million.

According to the documents though, 50 says “Animal Ambition” did accept bitcoin payments, but it was converted to US dollars by a third party before it ever reached him or his companies.

50 now claims that he has never owned any Bitcoin.

And with that news, I’m done with cryptocurrencies.