Uproxx knows that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines are driving the future of this planet forward. Every day, we see new ideas, fresh innovations, and bold trailblazers in these fields. Follow us this month as we highlight how STEM is shaping the culture of NOW.
Women haven’t always gotten proper credit for their inventions and innovations, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t out carving new paths and dreaming up the future. To the contrary, women have been responsible for some of the most important discoveries and inventions in the world. With that idea in mind, we want to celebrate some of the world-changing things that female inventors have created to make the world safer and better.
Hedy Lamarr’s wireless communication system was the foundation of Bluetooth, GPS, Cellular Networks, and Wifi.
The Austrian actress was known mostly in her lifetime for being one of the most beautiful people in the world, but she was also one of the most brilliant. Inspired to help with the war effort during World War II, Lamarr wanted to invent a way for torpedoes to be radio-guided (which would make them easier to be controlled and more precise). However, the problem with that idea was that radio signals could be jammed and interfered with. So Lamarr invented spread-spectrum radio, a way for the signals to hop around randomly from frequency to frequency making them difficult to catch and jam.
She and pianist George Antheil patented this idea in 1942, but when she brought it to the Navy, they were uninterested. Her technology was basically put in a drawer for years. That is, until they began looking at developing a way to use sonar to detect submarines and transmit the information in a jam proof way to airplanes. They turned to Lamarr’s research and soon tons of technology was being created around her idea. It wasn’t until the 1990’s when an early pioneer in Wifi found Lamarr’s original patent and began the process to honor her.
It’s said that when an 80 something-year-old Lamarr was called and told she would be getting her first award that her first words were, “Well, it’s about time.”