When gravity, one of the fundamental laws of nature, was first discovered, people still believed that the earth was flat. Therefore, with the knowledge they had available, they logically concluded that when they reached the end of the earth, they would just fall off into space. Then came the first outlaw brave enough to disappear over the horizon and return.
The more we learn about natural laws, the more we break them, which often results in new scientific discoveries. While there have been many rule-breaking celebrities, there are only a few who have successfully broken the laws of nature.
Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler
One of them was Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler. Classic movie lovers know her better by her stage name, Hedy Lamarr. She was famously quoted as saying that “Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid." That quote is a testament to her acting ability because she was anything but stupid. In fact, she is credited with developing a radio guidance system for torpedoes that utilized spread spectrum technology.
That technology prevented Allied communications from being jammed by the enemy during WWII. The same scientific principles used in her work were incorporated into GPS systems, Bluetooth technology and the WiFi you’re probably using right now. Sadly, she wasn’t inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame until 2014, 14 years after her death at the age of 86.
Brian May, guitarist for the legendary band Queen, wasn’t satisfied with just being a rock star. Ranked as one of the top 100 guitarists of all time, he touched the lives of millions with his music. Before touring for decades with one of the most popular bands in history, he’d wanted to reach for the stars—the stars in outer space.
Because of his life-long fascination with astronomy, he was invited to Imperial College by the head of the astrophysics department. He completed his PhD there in 2007 at the age of 60. Since then, as an astrophysicist, he has worked with NASA’s New Horizons program, an interplanetary space probe mission. To help instill youth with a love of science and a love of the natural world, he also co-founded Asteroid Day. Perhaps as a reward, he had an asteroid, number 52665, named after him. Only time will tell how many ways space exploration will benefit humanity or what celebrity might become the next brilliant outlaw.