In honor of Natalie Portman, Scientist

Posted on March 1, 2011  /  0 Comments

Haven’t seen the movie yet, but it is always nice when brains go with beauty and skill.

The last time this combination was present in Hollywood was in the 1940s, when Hedy Lamarr was both inventing and acting. Her contribution was an antecedent to spread spectrum.

The most celebrated invention of frequency hopping was that of actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil, who in 1942 received U.S. Patent 2,292,387 for their “Secret Communications System”. Lamarr had learned at defense meetings she had attended with her former husband Friedrich Mandl that radio-guided missiles’ signals could easily be jammed [2]. The Antheil–Lamarr version of frequency hopping used a piano-roll to change among 88 frequencies, and was intended to make radio-guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect or to jam. The patent came to light during patent searches in the 1950s when ITT Corporation and other private firms began to develop Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), a civilian form of spread spectrum, though the Lamarr patent had no direct impact on subsequent technology. It was in fact ongoing military research at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Magnavox Government & Industrial Electronics Corporation, ITT and Sylvania Electronic Systems that led to early spread-spectrum technology in the 1950s. Parallel research on radar systems and a technologically similar concept called “phase coding” also had an impact on spread-spectrum development.

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