Engineers had been thinking about the communication problem for decades, but they hadn’t yet
a solution that was enemy-proof. Although radio could offer a connection between sub and torpedo,
technology had an oversharing problem. Once a station was established, enemies could easily gum it
jam it, or listen to the signal. The line was too public. What soldiers needed was a way to talk to
weapons without the enemy overhearing the instructions. An anti-jamming technique had been floated
by a US Navy engineer, but his solution—transmitting over higher and higher frequencies—wouldn’t
long as opposing forces one-upped each other for higher and higher real estate. Lamarr, however, had
idea about how to secure a safe and clear connection. Since setting a single frequency left the
vulnerable, she thought that a coordinated effort where both the sender and the receiver hopped
in a pattern would confound anyone trying to listen in. The idea was similar to two pianos playing
Helping her to advance the idea was Lamarr’s friend George Antheil, a composer who put together
to help support his more experimental work. Antheil was famous for a piece he produced in Paris in
called Le Ballet Mécanique. Although humans ended up playing the parts, the work called for
player pianos to perform in sync. Lamarr, also an accomplished pianist, sometimes played
with Antheil. The duo would play a game sort of like chase across the keys. One person would start
a tune, and the other would have to catch the song and play alongside. According to her son, this
synchronized musical discourse gave the inventor her idea for outsmarting the Axis opponents.
who had already put quite a lot of thought into how to synchronize machines and who had, at one
been a US munitions inspector, was the perfect partner to help Lamarr implement her idea.
Over countless hours on the phone, in the evenings, and spread out with matchsticks and other
on Lamarr’s living room rug, the pair nailed down the basics for their frequency-hopping invention.
They applied for a patent in June 1941.
More concerned about the war than monetization, Lamarr and Antheil also sent their ambitious plans
Washington, DC, for review from the National Inventors Council. The positive feedback was swift.
In a special to the New York Times, the council leaked its approval. The article began, “Hedy
screen actress, was revealed today in a new role, that of an inventor. So vital is her discovery to
national defense that government officials will not allow publication of its details.” The idea was
classified “red hot” by the council’s engineer.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor changed the perception of the project. With the tragedy came many
revelations about the sorry state of the United States’ existing torpedoes. At this point,
the navy decided that they had neither the bandwidth nor the interest to test another system.
Lamarr and Antheil secured the patent but lost out on a government contract. Lamarr’s patent
was classified and filed away, its inventors’ chances for realworld deployment left in the
dusty back pockets of a government cabinet.
It wasn’t until two decades later that the idea resurfaced, wrapped into a new frequency-hopping
communication technology (later called spread-spectrum). Even then, the idea didn’t go public
until 1976—thirty-five years after Lamarr patented it.
As it turned out, the technology had broader uses than just missiles. Lamarr’s idea paved the
way for a myriad of technologies, including wireless cash registers, bar code readers, and home
control systems, to name a few. While she had a long career as a celebrated actress, Lamarr finally
got the full recognition she deserved when she was awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s
Pioneer Award in 1997. Her response: “It’s about time.”
SOPHIE KOWALEVSKI BELIEVED IT WAS A MISTAKE OF THE UNINformed to confuse mathematics with
arithmetic. Arithmetic was just a pile of “dry and arid” numbers to be multiplied and divided.
Mathematics was a world of elegant possibilities that “demand[ed] the utmost imagination.” To engage
in mathematics fully was to elevate it to an art not unlike poetry. “The poet must see more deeply
than other people, and the mathematician must do the same.
”Looking deeply into the numbers was a
skill she acquired at a very young age. When Kowalevski was a child, her father, who had recently
retired from Russian military service, moved the family to a rural estate near the Lithuanian
border. It was a large home next to a forest and on a lake, far from any big cities. They ordered
wallpaper from St. Petersburg to freshen up the home’s interior, but when the paper arrived, it
became clear that there had been a miscalculation. The nursery was left bare. Instead of going
through the hassle of ordering more, Kowalevski’s father fashioned an inexpensive, DIY solution. He
had the room papered with the lithographed lectures on differential and integral calculus from a
course he’d taken as a young officer. If there is an event that catalyzes the imagination, sending
us, for the rest of our lives, restlessly after our passions, for Kowalevski, this was it. Her
governess could not tear the girl away from the equation-layered room. “I would stand by the wall
for hours on end, reading and rereading what was written there.” She was too young to understand its
meaning, but age didn’t stop her from trying.
For the majority of her childhood, Kowalevski’s education did not keep pace with her curiosity. Her
father wasn’t keen on the idea of “learned women.” Consequently, her formal instruction was spotty.
“I was in a chronic state of book hunger,” she wrote in her autobiography. Kowalevski would sneak
into her family’s library to consume the forbidden foreign novels and Russian periodicals heaped on
the room’s tables and couches. “And here, suddenly at my fingertips—su ch treasure! How could anyone
not be tempted.”
When her uncles visited, she probed them for stories about math and science. Through them, she
learned how a coral reef was formed, how mathematical asymptotes would never kiss the curve leaning
toward them, and about the Greek problem of how to square a circle. “The meaning of these concepts I
naturally could not yet grasp, but they acted on my imagination, instilling in me a reverence for
mathematics as an exalted and mysterious science which opens up to its initiates a new world of
wonders, inaccessible to ordinary mortals.”Kowalevski whipped through a borrowed algebra book,
ducking the attention of her governess while she studied. When a neighbor, a physics professor,
dropped off a textbook he’d written, as a gift for her father, the volume mysteriously ended up in
his daughter’s possession. The next time the professor visited the house, Kowalevski engaged him in
conversation about optics—not the simplest task. The professor was reluctant to talk to her about
something that she couldn’t possibly understand. She was young—at this point in her teens—and a
woman. But Kowalevski’s explanation of sine changed his mind.Because she was mostly selfta ught,
Kowalevski’s education had gaps. The chapter on optics, for instance, gave her trouble because she
lacked a foundation in trigonometry that would have explained the function of sine. And sine was all
over the place! So she began experimenting with its meaning, ferreting out an answer through trial
and error. When she laid out her conclusion for the professor, his jaw hit the floor. She had
pioneered her way to sine’s meaning via the same route that mathematicians had taken historically.
The professor appealed to her father, comparing Kowalevski’s considerable abilities to the famous
French mathematician Pascal. She needed advanced academic training, stat.
Her father finally gave in.
Kowalevski’s opportunities in Russia, however, had a well-established ceiling. Her only chances for
greater professional development were abroad. But how to get there? Unmarried, she was stuck at
home, subject to her father’s rules. Married, she would be forced to conform to her husband’s life
in Russia. To Kowalevski and her older sister Anyuta, neither option was viable. Kowalevski opted
for a third, more unconventional option. She entered into a sham marriage.
Her husband, Vladimir
Kowalevski, was part of a radical political group fighting for equal education for women. When
Sophie married Vladimir at age eighteen, both she and her sister were free to leave Russia thanks
to their new legally bound but platonic chaperone.
Kowalevski’s first stop was Heidelberg, Germany.
(Her husband went elsewhere to study geology.) But when she arrived, Kowalevski found that women
were barred from university enrollment. The young mathematician, though, was practiced at using her
insight as a tool to change reluctant minds. Kowalevski soon gained approval to attend lectures
unofficially. One classmate, Yulya Lermontova, who became the first Russian woman to earn a
doctorate in chemistry, remembered the impression Kowalevski made on the place. “Sofya immediately
attracted the attention of her teachers with her uncommon mathematical ability. Professors were
ecstatic over their gifted student and spoke about her as an extraordinary phenomenon. Talk of the
amazing Russian woman spread through the little town, so that people would often stop in the street
to stare at her.”
Next, Kowalevski traveled to Berlin, where she convinced a mathematician she greatly admired, named
Karl Weierstrass, to teach her privately. (The University of Berlin, where Weierstrass taught, had
an even stricter ban on women.) He was no supporter of the other sex in academics, but Kowalevski’s
abilities and passion for the subject quickly earned her a place as his star student and later a
She wanted a doctorate in mathematics, so Weierstrass facilitated one from the University of
Göttingen—a university that would grant higher degrees to women—without Kowalevski having to attend
class or exams. From Berlin, Kowalevski became the first woman in Europe to earn a PhD in
mathematics. Most doctoral students opted to write one dissertation; Kowalevski assembled three:
two in pure mathematics and one in astronomy.Meanwhile, Kowalevski’s sham marriage morphed into a
real one. In 1875, she returned with her husband to Russia, putting mathematics aside. Weierstrass
begged Kowalevski to come back to Europe and her studies. With so much distance between them, she
stopped returning her advisor’s letters.
Six years after she left Berlin, having accrued several failed real estate ventures and a strained
marriage, Kowalevski returned to Germany alone. Her work resumed immediately. Kowalevski published
groundbreaking papers on the refraction of light in crystals and on “the reduction of a certain
class of Anelian functions to elliptic functions.” In 1883, Stockholm University invited her to
become a lecturer. She initially rejected the invitation, citing “deep doubts” about her ability to
excel at the position until she felt ready to live up to the honor. However, within six months of
her arrival, she’d been promoted to full professor and offered an editor position in the journal
Acta Mathematica. Two years later she was the department chair, fluent in Swedish, and dedicated to
her work with a singular passion not felt since the early days of liberation from her father’s
roof.It was then, egged on by supportive peers, that she went after what the discipline called the
“mathematical mermaid,” a classical mathematical problem that had eluded many greats. For advancing
the field’s understanding of this problem, which involved “the rotation of a solid body around a
fixed point under the influence of gravitational force,” the Paris Academy of Sciences would issue
a cash prize. Kowalevski worked furiously to complete her offering on time.The Paris Academy of
Sciences’ announcement was a shock for two reasons. First, the winner broke so much new ground on
the problem that the prize’s governing body voted to increase the pot. The second was only a
surprise to those who didn’t already know her. Of the fifteen entries submitted anonymously,
Kowalevski’s took the prize. Her solution led the way to new areas of research in theoretical
mathematics. An analysis of her work pointed out that her win had influence that was more than
mathematical: “The value... is not only in the results themselves nor in the originality of her
method, but also in the increased interest she aroused in the problem... on the part of researchers
in many countries, in particular Russia.”By the time of her death from pneumonia at age forty-one,
Kowalevski had risen to the top of her discipline. As was custom, her brain was weighed and
assessed, the size and grooves judged as an indication of ability. “[The] brain of the deceased was
developed in the highest degree,” reported the Stockholm newspapers. “And was rich in convolutions,
as might have been predicted, judging by her high intelligence.”
KUP books challenges the approach towards democracy, the problems of modern art world, whether we can
survive without the property, the fundamental principles of a society shared by animals and human
how we can start from the scratch if the thing called “civilization” collapses, the supply equilibrium
the global warming, how social justice should be established, the results of the obsession of being
the history of pain, and what kind of a genetic future awaits the humanity.With the growing number of
every year, KUP tries to close the gaps of the academic publishing and those in our intellectual world
most influential way.
The revenue that comes from KUP books are used for the scholarships of Koc University students.