In honor of International Women's Day, Metro highlights five women who changed the world with their inventions.
Marie Curie (1867 - 1934)
She is the most recognized scientist in the world, especially for her studies and research on radioactivity. The Polish-born French radiochemist was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physics and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1903 and 1911, respectively. She’s credited with the discovery of two elements: polonium and radium. She also created the first radiology center and mobile x-ray units for military use during World War II.
Stephanie Kwolek (1923-2014 )
She studied chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was in 1965, while working for the chemical company DuPont when she created a thin, strong and versatile fiber known as kevlar, which is more resistant than steel and is today used for the manufacture of bulletproof vests, military helmets and supplies. Kwolek received several awards for her discovery, including the National Medal of Technology. In 1994 she became the fourth woman to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall.
Hedy Lamarr (1914 - 2000)
She was one of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood and also one of the most controversial. Her industry firsts include, starring in one of the first films to feature female infidelity and appearing nude in a commercial film. However, her major contribution to the world came in the field of engineering. Hedy, along with composer George Antheli developed a detection system for unmanned torpedoes from the theory of spread spectrum. The creators of wireless communication devices such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS based their technology on Lamarr’s discovery.
Melitta Bentz (1873 - 1950)
This German housewife transformed the way we drink coffee. Before the 20th century coffee was prepared by placing the beans in linen bags that were immersed in boiling water. Unfortunately, the coffee was disgusting and the process was impractical because the fabric had to be washed after each use. Bentz did many experiments before discovering that if thick paper was placed over a pot with holes, you could get coffee with an improved flavor and consistency. She patented her invention in 1908 and quickly became a businesswoman who granted her employees good working conditions, such as overtime pay, 15 vacation days a year, a five day week and a social fund.
Katharine Burr Blodgett (1898-1979)
She received her PhD in physics from the University of Cambridge, becoming the first woman to achieve this degree in the British institution. She was also the first woman to work at General Electric. Her research led her to create gas masks — a key safety precaution during World War II. But her greatest invention was the anti-reflective glass used as material for camera lenses and later for computer screens, automobile glasses and sunglasses.