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Computer History Must Include People of Color

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perl_geek   6/22/2017 1:10:51 PM
As a non-mathematician who thoroughly enjoyed the movie, I suspect that the writers symbolised rather than portrayed more than just the mathematics, (though I think I could see Euler's method being used on that sort of problem).

For example, what intermittent malfunction of a '57 Chevy would be fixed by first crawling under the front suspension, then whacking the battery, (possibly causing a short circuit in the process)? Ground corrosion?

Identifying the right cable to relocate in the rat's nest of a 7090's internals would probably have taken more than a cursory glance, too. Both problems more in the domain of an electrical engineer, (or at least electrician), than a mathematician. (I think she put the cards in the reader the right way, though ; face down, nine edge first. Any other greybeards around who could confirm that?)

Seriously, apart from being hugely entertaining, "Hidden Figures" helped bring an important part of history to public attention. If people or events are written out of history, for whatever political or ideological reasons, it distorts the information stream needed to make sensible decisions in future. That really annoys me. It's hard enough to think with good data. Duff gen makes us all stupid.

Kevin Neilson
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Kevin Neilson   6/19/2017 3:49:42 PM
I'll stay out of the politics, but I just watched this movie and wondered about some of the math.  At one point Katherine suggests they use the "ancient" Euler's Method to solve some differential equations, and everybody seems to think it's a new idea, but wouldn't they have been using this long before?  I'm sure the writers took a lot of liberties.  I have a copy of "Das Marsprojekt" aka "The Mars Project" written by von Braun in the early 50s, and I think that's what he was using for numerical solutions of flight paths, at least for the early part of the flight.  As I recall, there weren't closed solutions for the parts of the flight with a lot of air friction.

It must have been a pain to work through all those iterations of Euler's Method.  I notice in the movie they use this beast of an adding machine, the Friden STW:  Friden

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