November 28, 2006
"Hedy Lamarr for sexiest geek"
Posted by Gordon Smith

In my Contracts class, we read Sullivan v. O'Connor, in which a woman sued a doctor for contract damages in connection with a botched operation on her nose. According to the doctor, the woman "had a tremendous nose -- the biggest nose I've ever seen in my whole life." What she wanted, according to the doctor, was a "Hedy Lamarr nose."

What she got, according to the court, was a nose with a "concave line about to the midpoint, at which it became bulbous; viewed frontally, the nose from bridge to midpoint was flattened and broadened, and the two sides of the tip had lost symmetry."

Sullivan won her case, but what of Hedy Lamarr? Most of my students have never heard of Hedy Lemarr prior to reading Sullivan v. O'Connor, but there was more to Hedy Lamarr than a beautiful nose. Indeed, I was surprised earlier this year to learn that she is a patentee, and "Lamarr's frequency-hopping idea served as the basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology used in devices ranging from cordless telephones to WiFi Internet connections."

No wonder Emily Shurr thinks Lamarr would be a shoo-in if nominated in Wired's "sexiest geek" competition.

Thanks to Connor Sabatino for the tip.

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