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Meet the Brilliant Three


Life has some interesting coincidences. As I was preparing this blog for public launch, I happened to see the movie trailer for "Hidden Figures".

It tells the true story of three brilliant women, all African-American, who were part of the early NASA space programme helping to put man on the moon. 

An incredible science story that was lost to history...until now.

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Meet the Brilliant Three


Life has some interesting coincidences. As I was preparing this blog for public launch, I happened to see the movie trailer for "Hidden Figures".

It tells the true story of three brilliant women, all African-American, who were part of the early NASA space programme helping to put man on the moon. 

An incredible science story that was lost to history...until now.

Katherine Goble Johnson

Brilliant Mathematician & Human Computer

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As a computer, she calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space. Even after NASA began using electronic computers, John Glenn requested that she personally recheck the calculations made by the new electronic computers before his flight aboard Friendship 7- the mission on which he became the First American to orbit the Earth.
— NASA


 

As extraordinary as the equations she used to help send John Glenn to orbit

I counted everything: the steps, the dishes, the stars in the sky, says Katherine Johnson of her childhood. Math has given her joy for as long as she can remember, and it seems that becoming a professional mathematician was her destiny. As an African-American woman from rural West Virginia...the path that brought her to the profession seems as extraordinary as the equations she used to help send John Glenn into orbit around the earth and land Neil Armstrong on the moon.
— The Human Computer Project was founded in 2014 to tell the stories of pioneering women who worked as mathematicians and 'computers' during the early days of the NACA and NASA space program.
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Katherine Johnson


"NASA chief Charles Bolden recalls the historic trajectory of the “human computer” who played a key role in the Apollo 11 moon landing, and as a female African-American in the 1960s, shattered stereotypes in the process" - Vanity Fair, September 2016

Katherine Johnson


"NASA chief Charles Bolden recalls the historic trajectory of the “human computer” who played a key role in the Apollo 11 moon landing, and as a female African-American in the 1960s, shattered stereotypes in the process" - Vanity Fair, September 2016

 
 
 
 
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Dorothy Vaughan


1910-2008

"Dorothy Vaughn joined NACA’s segregated West Area Computing Unit in December 1943 — a group she would run six years later thanks to her mathematical prowess and leadership tenacity."

"Vaughn mastered computer programming and helped the agency transition from human to IBM computers. " - PBS SCIENCE BY NSIKAN AKPAN  December 23, 2016

Dorothy Vaughan


1910-2008

"Dorothy Vaughn joined NACA’s segregated West Area Computing Unit in December 1943 — a group she would run six years later thanks to her mathematical prowess and leadership tenacity."

"Vaughn mastered computer programming and helped the agency transition from human to IBM computers. " - PBS SCIENCE BY NSIKAN AKPAN  December 23, 2016

Mary Winston Jackson 
American mathematician and aerospace engineer

(April 9, 1921 – February 11, 2005) 

"For Mary Winston Jackson, a love of science and a commitment to improving the lives of the people around her were one and the same. In the 1970s, she helped the youngsters in the science club at Hampton’s King Street Community center build their own wind tunnel and use it to conduct experiments. “We have to do something like this to get them interested in science," she said in an article for the local newspaper. "Sometimes they are not aware of the number of black scientists, and don't even know of the career opportunities until it is too late."

NASA Biography excerpt by Margot Lee Shetterly

 

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Mary Jackson


1921-2005

American mathematics and aeronautics engineer

Mary Jackson


1921-2005

American mathematics and aeronautics engineer

Thank you to the STEM pioneers featured here, and the many nameless brilliant minds and caring women whose stories are represented by Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan.