Category Archives: Engineering

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story review – startling life of the film star/inventor

This excellent documentary celebrates the glamorous Hollywood icon and brilliant engineer whose groundbreaking work led to Bluetooth and wifi

There can hardly be any more extraordinary story from the Hollywood golden age than that of Hedy Lamarr; a very beautiful star with a moderate acting talent but an untutored brilliance in science and engineering that should by now be getting her compared to Nikola Tesla, or maybe even a neglected female scientist like Rosalind Franklin. Her tragedy was that she was in the wrong business, precisely that business that promotes beauty over brains – the movie business.

Alexandra Dean’s excellent and important documentary about her is very instructive – a parable of modern sexual politics and assumptions about science. Even now, many can’t believe in their hearts that movie star Hedy Lamarr really was a scientist, or scientist manqué. The accomplishment simply doesn’t square with the accepted female star biography narrative into which Lamarr otherwise fits: movies, husbands, poignant reclusive decline etc. Many film encyclopedias and reference books simply omit what was important about Hedy Lamarr.

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Source: gad

Roma Agrawal: ‘Structural engineers are unsung heroes’

The Shard engineer has long been fascinated by the technical ingenuity of design. Now she wants to help us see the built environment with similar wonder

Roma Agrawal likes to stroke concrete. Her snaps from a holiday in Italy are of arches and bricks (“so many different types of arches,” she enthuses, “so many different types of bricks”). A typical leisure activity – “a few weekends of good geeky fun” – is building a large Lego model of Big Ben. The man who is now her husband, whom she initially disparaged to her friends as “Flirtman”, wooed her by sending daily emails on a “Bridge of the Day”. (“An example of why you should do a proper damping analysis,” read the first, which was about the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse of 1940.) “When we realised the geeky fascination we both had,” she says, “we clicked.”

She loves buildings, construction, materials, the ways in which things stand up, how they’re built and the stories of how they got to be there, the interactions of humanity, matter and mathematics that give us skyscrapers and bridges. Also more modest structures. “I wake up in a warm home. Why is it not sinking or falling down? Every minute of the day its structure is working. Who are the people behind that?”

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Source: gad