A Vietnam and Afghanistan Analysis

By Rick Bretz

The human toll these countries have paid due to both of them being a political football throughout the last century into the current one is staggering.  The estimated death toll for the Vietnam Wars just from 1959-1975 is 58,000 US troops, 1.1 million of the North Vietnamese Army, and one-half to 2 million civilian deaths.  If estimates include Cambodia and Laos, the death toll rises to more than five million.  Afghanistan’s death toll numbers from 1979-2001 have been estimated from one-and-a-half million to more that two million.  After 2001 to the present, the cost in lives for US forces is more than 1500 with an additional 20 to 50 thousand civilian casualties due to terrorist activity and the consequences of using modern warfare weaponry.  These numbers are always being revised upward and in the case of Vietnam, the numbers don’t include the casualties that were inflicted during World War II and afterwards with Ho Chi Minh’s rebellious war with the French supported by the Soviet’s and Chinese communist governments.

US-Map of Soviet Invasion in Afghanistan
US-Map of Soviet Invasion in Afghanistan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Comparisons between Vietnam and Afghanistan are easy to understand.  After all, the Soviet Union military leadership was discussing ways to get out of Afghanistan as early as 1980 due to tribal disputes, the difficulty and lack of mountain warfare training, and the strong Mujahideen force combating against the Soviet occupation.  However, like the United States in Vietnam twenty years before, the muddy politics and refusal to understand the local culture thought process prevented them from acting on that understanding quickly.

In an interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski with the French Le Nouvel Observateur, he stated that… “on July 3, 1979 US President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul…We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would. The day the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War…”

The sad history about the Soviet invasion into Afghanistan and the 30 years since is that women in the country were enjoying more freedoms and educational opportunities before 1979.  Since the invasion, the civil war, and the Taliban control, those freedoms were stripped away and in its place abusive restrictions became normal procedure until the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.  Since the invasion, the progress toward more freedom for women has been slow but noticeable.

What is interesting to note in the timelines below is that Vietnam was unstable and volatile early in the last century but is now is relatively steady with economic opportunities. Afghanistan is just the opposite.  The country was relatively sound early in the last century but was thrown into turmoil later on and into the current age.

English: From George L. MacGarrigle, The Unite...
English: From George L. MacGarrigle, The United States Army in Vietnam: Combat Operations, Taking the Offensive, October 1966-October 1967. Washington DC: Center of Military History, 1998. Category:Vietnam War (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another commonality with both wars was the formation of resistance fighters.  One fought against Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, the Mujahideen, while the other, The Viet Cong, the communist organization in Vietnam, waged war against US and other NATO forces.  Both civilian populations played a part in accepting or covertly disrupting operations.  Both wars, especially before 2001, were proxy wars funded by superpower money and weapons, sometimes masked and filtered through their allies. The initial social and tribal readings by intelligence analysts underestimated local politics and influence by local leaders in both wars.  The Soviets misread the conviction of the Mujahideen and the influence of Islam throughout the nation.  In addition, the PDPA, the communist leadership, was never as unified as the Soviet Politburo leaders were led to believe before invading on the request of Afghanistan PM Amin.  As with Vietnam, the diplomatic and government phenomenon of mission creep occurred for the Soviet military, the Soviet army initially occupied the country to protect cities and installations.  Over time, the army, composed of reservists and regulars, began to engage in combat missions that expanded.  Like the US in Vietnam, the Soviet Army had to fight a guerilla war they were not prepared to prosecute in the beginning.  They were fighting against rebels who knew their own terrain.

There are differences between the present Afghanistan War and the Soviet Union invasion. The US war in Afghanistan is retaliation against aggression from elements inside the country on September 11th, 2001.  The US force went in knowing the units had to fight in addition to securing cities and installations. Military leaders also had studied Afghanistan terrain, the climate, and tribal politics in addition to the lessons learned from the Soviet occupation.  The US leadership didn’t say this at the time of the invasion, but the fight on terrorism was a long-term commitment to Afghanistan. That meant,  if necessary, they were willing to stay past 10 years in the country to secure the region.

I can write for days concerning this topic.  If you have any comments or notes, please post them.  I am looking forward to reading other ideas about this topic.

 

Notable Links:

http://www.e-ir.info/2010/01/03/the-soviet-union%E2%80%99s-last-war/

http://www.guidetorussia.com/russia-afghanistan.asp

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB57/soviet.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_war_in_Afghanistan

http://english.pravda.ru/history/28-12-2011/120105-ussr_afghanistan-0/

http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/history/vietnam-war-us-involvement.html

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_people_died_in_the_Vietnam_War

Afghanistan -Comparison Timeline

1913-1920 1919-Afghanistan regains independence from British occupying forces.
1933-1945 1933-Zahir Shah becomes King and Afghanistan remains a monarchy for the next four decades.
1945-1953 1953-General Mohammed Daud becomes prime minister with King Shah a figure-head and implements many social reforms.  Gen. Daud asks for help from the Soviet government.
1954-1961 1956-Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev agrees to aid Afghanistan and the countries become allies.    Daud’s reforms include women attending university and working.
1960-1963 1963-Daoud’s social reforms continue agitating the conservative religious community.
1964-1968 1965-The Afghan communist party forms.
1969-1975 1973-The former PM Daud seizes power in a coup, deposes King Shah and declares a republic
1976-1979 1978-PM Daud is overthrown and killed by the leftist People’s Democratic Party during a coup. Hufizullah Amin wins a power struggle, becomes president. The People’s Democratic Party (PDPA) struggle for power.  1979-The Soviet Union occupies country at the request of Afghanistan’s communist party leaders.
1979-2001 1980-With occupying Soviet troops supplying power, Party Leader Babrak Kamal becomes the countries leader.

Other Significant Dates

1979-2001

1980-Afghan Army soldiers defect to Mujahideen rebel force, led by Ahmad Massoud.

1980-US   and other nations supply rebel forces.

1986-US supplies stinger missiles to rebels to shoot down   Soviet air power.

1988-Last of   the Soviet troops leave Afghanistan.

1996-Taliban  seize control of Afghanistan and carry out harsh Islamic doctrine controls.

2001-Present

9-9-2001-Massoud assassinated by suicide bombing

9-11-2001-Terrorist  attacks on US Soil.

2001-US   and Great Britain launch invasion of country after it refuses to hand-over  Osama Bin Laden, the master mind of the 9/11 attacks on US soil.

2001-Taliban ousted from power.

2004-Democratic  elections held in country, electing Hamid Karzai as President.

2012– Continued US and NATO presence in the region.  Karzai still in power. Taliban force strength reduced but still launches attacks from mountainous region bordering Pakistan.

   Vietnam Timeline-Comparison Timeline

1913-1920 1919-Ho Chi Minh emerges after WW I and tries to petition Woodrow Wilson for Self Determination
1933-1945 1940-Japan invades   Vietnam.  1941-Ho Chi Minh   organizes pro independence league.  1945-Japan surrenders.  Minh declares independence and unites all French colonial provinces to form Vietnam.

 

1945-1953 1946-National Chinese, French, and Viet Minh struggle   for control of the Viet Territory.  1946-Beginning   of First Vietnam War between French and Viet Minh.  China and USSR back Viet   Minh. US back French to stop the spread of communism.
1954-1961 1954-Viet Minh defeat French at Dien Bien Phu, leading to Geneva negotiations diving   Vietnam at the 17th Parallel.

1955-1956-Emperor Bao Dai is forced from power by Ngo Dinh Diem. He declares himself president and gains support from US. US sends advisors

1960-1963 1960-National Liberation Front  (Viet Cong) forms to fight against US   Forces and President Diem.  1963-US supports military Coup against President Diem. Diem’s murder during the coup leads to a number of successive leaders.
1964-1968 1964-Gulf of Tonkin Resolution give President Johnson   war powers.  1965-US Combat   Troops arrive in Vietnam (Second Vietnam War).  1968-Tet offensive launched by Ho Chi Minh and Viet Cong.
1969-1975 1969– Ho Chi Minh dies.  1973-Nixon and Kissinger negotiate peace treaty. US   withdraws a majority of troops.  1974-President Ford balks at sustaining aid to South Vietnam Forces.  1975-Viet Nam unified under   communist rule after taking Saigon, which they rename Ho Chi Minh City.
1976-1979 1978-Vietnam invades Cambodia, trying to take over from the Khmer Rouge. Tensions with China increase.
1979-2001 1986-Vietnam revises strategy and commits to social and market reforms.  1995-Diplomatic relations normalized between US and Vietnam.
2001-Present 2010/2011-Academic year-More than 14,800 students studies at US colleges and universities.  2012– Trade between US and Vietnam continue to increase.
   

 

 

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Eight of Humankind’s Best Years

by Rick Bretz

The 2013 New Year is approaching and well might be here by the time you read this.  With that obvious statement, I thought it would be a useless exercise in listing the best years human kind has produced. I’ve picked years with the important inventions and developments with an understandably subjective slant.

1800Invention of the battery; this event is a vital point in history.  This could well be the point where civilization begins.  Without batteries for everything from smart phones, remotes, and automobiles, humankind would be lost and forced to talk to each other.

Congress holds first session in an unfinished capitol building.  I could make a nasty comment about congressional recesses, unfinished government business such as budget approvals, and fiscal cliffs but I’ll refrain from easy targets.

Washington, DC officially established as nation’s capitol.

Library of Congress established with initial $5000 funding. After the War of 1812 when the British destroyed much of the library, Thomas Jefferson offered to sell his vast collection of books to establish the library again in 1815. He sold his books to the library for $29,950.

Spain cedes Louisiana to France (Setting up the later purchase of the territory from France in 1803 during the Jefferson administration).

1770-The invention of the eraser; if this event had not occurred, many students taking class during pre-computer days would have been forced to submit first drafts.  For many of us, the eraser was an essential tool in math class.

1966-The development of Fiber Optic Cable, perfected by George Hockham and Charles Kao, gave Internet providers the ability to transmit massive amounts of data through optic fibers.  This is a huge development in our ability to watch YouTube videos.

fiber optics
fiber optics (Photo credit: go_nils)

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Freedom of Information Act.  This act lets someone request information from any government agency so that they can “sanitize” it.  Viewer can see this process in any number of documentaries when the host shows the audience an official government document with big blocks of black covering vital information to the story.

Star Trek premieres on NBC-TV. The birth of “Trekkie” Nation and a movie franchise.

1978– With the first Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite, launched on February 22, 1978, the world was on its way to traveling without maps. The system was fully integrated with the 24th satellite launched in 1993. It was just a matter of time before the public tossed the map in the back seat and mounted the latest and greatest GPS unit. Today older people can brag that they used to find restaurants and streets by using maps and their internal compasses in three feet of snow.  The GPS technology saves lives today by finding victims more easily. Moreover, the industry also creates thousands of jobs worldwide. In addition to those positives, it almost single-handedly eliminated arguments between spouses while traveling the nation’s highways.  Yes, it was a very good year.

 

The only GPS satellite on public display is at...
The only GPS satellite on public display is at the San Diego Aerospace Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1859Internal Combustion Engine developed from a steam engine by Belgian inventor Etienne Lenoir. It was the spark that created road trips through the ages.  With Henry Ford perfecting the assembly line production system, cheaper cars would give people the ability to go mobile.  Humankind would invent the hangover later.

In related news, the first successful oil well was drilled near Titusville, PA.

1564-The invention of the lead pencil.  It must have been messy writing with a quill all those years, with ink dripping all over the place.  What is so perplexing to me is that someone didn’t invent the erasure until 1770-people used bread  to erase mistakes instead.

lead pencil
lead pencil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1848-The light went on in Joseph Swan’s head and he invented the light bulb.  With the help of Thomas Edison and some electric current, soon all of America and the world would be able to get up at night without banging their knees on the night stand.

English: Light bulb patent application. Photol...
English: Light bulb patent application. Photolithography reproduction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gas lights first installed in the White House during the James Polk administration.

1897Swiss Army Knife. The original “McGyver” before there was such a thing.  The only thing this knife doesn’t have is a paper clip and some string.    The “Offiziersmesser” or officer’s knife was developed in Schwyz, Switzerland by a surgical equipment manufacturer who didn’t like the fact that Germany supplied the Swiss Army with its knives.  US Army soldiers popularized the knife and started calling it the “Swiss Army Knife.”  Today the company, Victorinox, makes millions of them and sells them worldwide.

Victorinox Swiss Army knife, photo taken in Sw...
Victorinox Swiss Army knife, photo taken in Sweden. This is a Mountaineer model. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thomas Edison patents his Kinetograph (movie camera)– later first movie critic invented.

Notable Links:

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson/jefflib.html

http://www.timbercon.com/history-of-fiber-optics/

http://www.nps.gov/gis/gps/history.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/101-gadgets-that-changed-the-world-398535.html

Eight December 25th significant events

In celebration of Christmas Day, here is a list of significant events occurring on December 25th.

Year 1989- The weather is cold in the winter months for most places. Japanese scientists decided they wanted to see how far they could force the temperature in the negatives.  They hit a record -271.8 degrees Celsius.  Personally, I’m building a fire in the fire-place at 0 degrees Celsius.

 

Emanuel Leutze's depiction of Washington's att...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Year 1776-On another cold day, General George Washington and his military force crossed the Delaware River so they could attack a Hessian mercenary unit at Trenton, NJ.  Washington attacked the unaware Hessians successfully and began the long road toward victory and independence.

 

John Philip Sousa, the composer of the song.
John Philip Sousa, the composer of the song. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Year 1896-John Philip Sousa writes “Stars and Stripes Forever.” for every marching band in the country.

Year 1855-The first outdoor hockey game is played using field hockey sticks and lacrosse balls. Royal Canadian Rifle unit soldiers started the game when clearing ice and snow from Lake Ontario.  Later, the game evolved into what we know today with the first indoor hockey game played on March 3, 1875 at Montreal, Canada.

Year 1818-The Christmas Hymn “Silent Night,” by Franz Joseph Gruber and Joseph Mohr is sung for the first time.

Year 336 or 337-Most sources state 336 but some have 337 as the first recorded celebration of Christmas in Rome.

English: Traveling by reindeer, Arkhangelsk, R...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Year 1939-The retail store Montgomery Ward introduces the ninth reindeer, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.

Born on December 25th– Believe or not, Robert L. Ripley, from Ripley’s Believe or Not fame, was born on this day. Also actor Humphrey Bogart, football players Larry Csonka, Kenny Stabler, and actress Sissy Spacek.

Janice Joplin and Sylvia Plath

by Rick Bretz

Artists express their tortured or exalted souls in a variety of ways.  They can use music and voice or the written word on paper. Either way, if the message has a medium and receiving audience, the result can move the human spirit. Artists are always looking for an emotional or intellectual response.  Sending sounds to an ear or words to the thought process can accomplish this, sometimes at the expense of the artists’ well-being. They are at once happy doing what they do best but seek more afterwards and find themselves wanting.

Cover of "Pearl"
Cover of Pearl

Janis Joplin and Sylvia Plath

Janis Joplin

Sylvia Plath

Born: January 19, 1943  Port Arthur, Texas Born:    October 27, 1932   Boston, Mass.
Died: October   4, 1970    Hollywood, Ca. Died: February 11, 1963   England
Cause: Accidental Heroin overdose Cause: Suicide by gas oven
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in   1995 First poet to receive Pulitzer Prize   after death in 1982
Known for distinctive voice Known for intense imagery and   alliteration
Lead singer for the group, “Big   Brother and the Holding Company Poetry: The Colossus (1960); Ariel (1965); Crossing the Water   (1971); Winter Trees (1972); The Collected Poems (1981)
Hits include: Piece of my Heart, Mercedes   Benz, Me and Bobby McGee Prose: The Bell Jar (1963) The   Journals of Sylvia Plath (1982) The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia   Plath (2000, edited by Karen V. Kukil)

 

Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I could try to analyze and compare these talented women but the best window into a soul is through their own words.

In the words of Janis Joplin

In the words of Sylvia Plath

“Onstage,   I make love to 25,000 people – then I go home alone.” “If they substituted the word “Lust”   for “Love” in the popular songs it would come nearer the truth.”
“‘I   feel, you know, I hurt, please help.’ I’m saying words, man, and if I look at   an audience and they ain’t understanding me, it’s just like getting kicked in   the teeth.”

 

“Can you understand? Someone,   somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my   despair, for all my ideals, for all that – I love life. But it is hard, and I   have so much – so very much to learn.”
On performing in concert, “…I dig   it! I dig it so much, man!” “Perhaps   when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously   near to wanting nothing.”

 

“People, whether they know it or not, like   their blues singers miserable. They like their blues singers to die   afterwards.”

 

The silence depressed me. It wasn’t   the silence of silence. It was my own silence.”
“It used to make me very unhappy,   all that feeling. I just didn’t know what to do with it. But now I’ve learned   how to make feeling work for me.” How frail the human heart must be — a mirrored   pool of thought.

 

They were both lonely despite having many people around them.  Janice Joplin tried to find the answer through drugs and alcohol and died of an overdose way before she should have left us. Radio stations play her songs today and her CDs sell well.  Sylvia Plath used her depression to create works that are studied in school and university literature classes to this day.  They both live on through words and music.

Alexander Graham Bell and Johann (John) Roebling

English: Engraving of John Augustus Roebling
English: Engraving of John Augustus Roebling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Rick Bretz

John Roebling and Alexander Graham Bell conquered barriers. John Roebling practiced construction engineering to break down barriers while Alexander Graham Bell used the art of communication transmitted by wires and electrical engineered devices.   One is famous for the Brooklyn Bridge while another is famous for the telephone.  However, both men accomplished much more during their lives than just those achievements they are known for in history books. John Roebling pioneered the construction of suspension bridges and built more in Pennsylvania, Ohio and other places as well as running a successful business in New Jersey. Bell in addition to inventing and perfecting the telephone, founded a school for speech and communication.   He also helped many people with diction and voice problems so they could function better during their daily lives.

Similarities   between Roebling and Bell

Alexander Graham Bell

Johann Augustus Roebling

Born: March 3, 1847-Edinburgh, Scotland Born: June 12, 1806-Muhlhausen, Prussia
Engineer, inventor, linguist, scientist Civil Engineer, innovator, designer, businessman
Educated overseas: Edinburgh University Educated overseas: Royal Polytechnic School
Invented and perfected telephone system to connect people and cities Built bridges to connect people and cities
Was recognized as a math talent at an early age Recognized for the ability to fix things at early age
Died:  August 2, 1922 Died:  July 22, 1869

 

John Augustus Roebling

John Roebling came early in the 19th Century and died before his time from complications  from an accident working on the beginning stages of the Brooklyn Bridge.  While surveying for the Brooklyn Bridge, his toes were crushed and had to be amputated.  He developed tetanus and later developed lockjaw.  He suffered a painful gruesome death after many seizures and lapsing in and out of a coma.  John Roebling taught his son, Washington Roebling, the business and kept him at his side during the planning stages of the bridge.  This enabled the bridge construction to continue after his death.

English: Aerial view of the John A. Roebling S...
English: Aerial view of the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Roebling built other suspension bridges over the Ohio River from Kentucky to Cincinnati, Ohio as well as a railway suspension bridge over the Niagara River. In addition, Roebling built a suspension bridge over the Monongahela River at Pittsburgh, Pa., and four suspension aqueducts on the Delaware and Hudson Canals.  All of this while running a wire cable business in Trenton, New Jersey.

Roebling was a meticulous man who demanded perfection.  He also was a micro-manager who needed to approve and inspect every aspect of a project or business. Roebling was in the business of completing projects that were to be used by people.  Because of this, he was involved in every detail.  He eventually trusted two people during his professional life, his assistant and his son, Washington Roebling, who completed the Brooklyn Bridge after his father’s death.  While other engineer’s bridges failed after a few years, John Roebling’s bridges are still going strong to this day due to his calculations and use of wire strands.  Drivers and pedestrians are crossing the Brooklyn and Cincinnati Bridges today because of Roebling’s demanding standards.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_A._Roebling

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/jun12.html

 

Alexander Graham Bell

Bell on the telephone in New York (calling Chi...
Bell on the telephone in New York (calling Chicago) in 1892 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While John Roebling connected people commercially and socially by giving them opportunities to cross one land mass to another, Alexander Graham Bell united one another through speech, communication, and the baby steps of information technology.

Alexander Graham Bell’s interest in speech, elocution, diction, communication patterns, and the physical development of Visible Speech was brought to him by his grandfather and father where he grew up in Scotland. Alexander’s father, Melville, became a leading authority on elocution and speech correction and Alexander began to learn about these techniques from his family.  After the family moved to Toronto, Canada, Alexander Bell accepted a position and began working at Boston School for Deaf Mutes in 1871 where he taught his father’s system of Visible Speech.  He taught there for only a semester but liked the Boston area and began tutoring deaf children on his own. He became successful at this business.

While Bell and his partners were working on sending multiple telegraph transmissions over the same wire on using different harmonic frequencies, he became interested in human voice transmission over those same wires.  He teamed up with another electrician to do this, Thomas Watson.  From 1974 to 1876, Bell and Watson worked on the harmonic telegraph and voice transmission. The stories of the first phone call have different versions but the important part is that Watson heard a sound transmitted over a wire. On March 10, 1876, Bell and Watson were working on their devices in the lab and Bell likely heard a noise over the wire and told Watson called to his assistant.  Watson probably heard Bell’s voice over the wire also, which became the first telephone call.  From there, Bell increased the distance of the wire transmissions.  On July 9, 1877, the Bell Telephone Company was organized and it was just a matter of time before a phone was in everyone’s home.  He had to defend his telephone patent over the next 18 years in court 550 times but he beat them all and the company fortunes and Bell’s fame grew. Thomas Edison had a part in improving the telephone which the invention of the microphone.  The microphone aided in the sound level so that the user didn’t need to shout into the receiver.

English: Helen Keller and Alexander Graham Bell
English: Helen Keller and Alexander Graham Bell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In addition to the telephone, Bell founded the Volta Laboratory where people could devote their efforts to science.  He developed metal jacket that helped people with lung problems, engineered a metal detector to local bullets in bodies, and invented an audiometer that tested a person’s hearing ability.  He founded the American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf in 1880.  Bell also met and worked with Helen Keller during this period, becoming lifelong friends. He described what Anne Sullivan did to help Keller as a hugely successful experiment rather than a miracle. When he died on August 2, 1922, the entire telephone system was turned off for one minute as a tribute.

Sources:

http://www.biography.com/people/alexander-graham-bell-9205497

Two pioneers in their fields who accomplished a great deal furthering the idea that people from different countries, states, cultures, neighborhoods and abilities  can connect in  different ways.

497

The Top Eight Women Inventors

Man does not have a monopoly on inventions.  It just seems that way because Mr. Bell, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Franklin and Mr. Edison have been hogging all of the publicity the last 250 years or so. In fact, several women have made significant contributions to industry, the home, science and information technology.  Some were the first to contribute to their particular field and forge new accomplishments for others to advance.  If it weren’t for these women on this list, life would be more difficult today in many ways.

 

  1. Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000)  She is best known as movie star actress during the WWII era.  She starred in “Samson and Delilah”, “Algiers” and many others.  She also wanted to contribute to the World War II effort by figuring out how to prevent the jamming of and intercepting of frequency communication systems by the enemy.  She and her co-inventor, George Anthiel, figured out the technique of “frequency hopping” or what they call today, “spread-spectrum” communication, proving that she was not  just a pretty face for the movies.  This technology is used today for everything from military weapons to cell phone transmissions.  They received a patent for it but it didn’t earn her any significant wealth.  In 1997 she was awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award.

 

  1. Sybilla Masters (died 1720) She was a significant contributor to the field of farming and weaving.  Masters was the first recorded American woman inventor.  She earned a patent for “Cleansing, Curing, and Refining of Indian-Corn Growing in the Plantations” and for a new methods for weaving straw for hats and bonnets. However, her husband had to put his name on the patent because of the laws at the time in 1715.  She deserves credit now for not being recognized back then.

 

  1. Josephine Garis Cochran (1839-1913) The world’s population owes this woman a collective thank you.  The reason?  She invented the first      working automatic dishwasher in 1889.  It was first shown at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.  The next phase for anyone out there, of course, is an automatic loader and un-loader.

 

  1. Marion Donovan (1917-1998) She invented the first waterproof, disposable diaper in 1950. The key word is “waterproof”.  Amazingly, business leaders weren’t interested in this at first, which showed an incredible lack of understanding to the plight of their wives and mothers.  She wasn’t discouraged.  She started her own company, Donovan Enterprises, and then sold it for a million dollars later.  At last the sweet smell of success!

 

  1. Grace  Murray Hopper (1906-1992) An engineer, educator and a naval officer rising to the rank of Rear Admiral, every computer programmer owes a debt of gratitude to her.  She invented  the concept of compiling programming languages. She popularized the term, “debugging” which refers to a weeding out code errors in a program.  She is a legend in the Navy and in the fields of Mathematics and Computer Engineering.

 

Ada Lovelace Day, March 24, 2009
Ada Lovelace Day, March 24, 2009 (Photo credit: clvrmnky)
  1. Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace (1815-1852) She was a mathematician and a collaborator with Charles Babbage, the inventor of the Analytical Engine, who built the first mechanical computer that could calculate numbers.  She also foresaw that computers could do more than calculate numbers, such as composing music, creating graphics and would be used for practical and scientific use. She also wrote the first computer program (Bernoulli numbers) for calculating numbers for Babbage’s machine. She was indeed a pioneer and a profit of the computer age.

 

Marie Curie
Marie Curie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  1. Marie Curie (1867-1934) Here is a woman who literally put her life on  the line for science. She was a polish physicist and chemist who      discovered radioactive metals such as Radium and Polonium.  She also discovered that the harmful properties of x-rays could kill tumors.  She made a decision to not seek patents for methods of processing  radium or how it could be used for medical applications. Curie was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes. She died of Leukemia caused by overexposure to radioactive material during her years of research.

 

 

  1. Lillian Moller Gilbreth (1878-1972) She was a pioneer in the field of ergonomics as well as an author, industrial engineer and inventor.      Gilbreth invented several helpful items for the kitchen to make our lives easier.  Everyone should give a collective bow of thank you (she saved our backs) to her because she invented the trashcan with the foot-pedal lid-opener.  She conducted several significant Time and Motion studies that simplified and improved industrial work. She also determined that stress affected worker efficiency as well as lack of sleep. While working for General Electric she conducted interviews with women to determine the proper height for stoves, sinks and other kitchen appliances.

Do you have any that you think significant?  Leave me a comment and I will respond.

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