Ligers, Lamarr and Eliza

When I first started reading this National Geographic article about ligers, a creature named in Napoleon Dynamite (it’s probably his favourite animal), I thought it was a parody. When the article began quoting actress Tippi Hedren about ligers and tigons, I was convinced that National Geographic had turned into The Onion.

But no, Tippi Hedren (of The Birds fame) does indeed run a wildlife preserve and yes, ligers are real.

Now I have a new respect for Napoleon Dynamite and Tippi Hedren. When it comes to truth-is-stranger-than-fiction stories of actresses though, you can’t beat the life and times of Hedy Lamarr:

"She was known as The Most Beautiful Woman In Films and also as a co-inventor of the first form of spread spectrum, a key to modern wireless communication."

This isn’t one of those parodies to get young men interested in science. Following a daring escape from Nazi Germany, Lamarr made her way to America where she found fame on the silver screen as "the Olivier of the orgasm". Together with composer George Antheil, she invented frequency-hopping spread spectrum, a way of rapidly switching a carrier signal for say, radio controlled torpedoes or WiFi.

She sounds like a latterday version of Eliza de la Zeur from Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle: the hottest fictional character ever imagined.

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