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Mattel hat letzten Monat seine neue Kollektion herausgebracht, und wahrscheinlich ist es das erste Mal, dass es unter den neuen Barbie-Puppen jetzt auch eine Mathematikerin gibt. Vorbild für die Puppe ist Katherine Johnson, die auch schon Vorbild für eine Lego-Figur war (zweite von links im Bild unten, aus rechtlichen Gründen ist diese Figur allerdings nie in den Verkauf gelangt).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Johnson, die im August 100 Jahre alt wird, galt bei der NASA als Expertin für komplexe Berechnungen sowohl “von Hand” als mit dem Computer, insbesondere bei der Berechnung von Flugbahnen.

In 1962, as NASA prepared for the orbital mission of John Glenn, Johnson was called on to do the work that she would become most known for. The complexity of the orbital flight had required the construction of a worldwide communications network, linking tracking stations around the world to computers in Washington, Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Bermuda.

The computers had been programmed with orbital equations that would control the trajectory of the capsule in Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission, from blast off to splashdown, but the astronauts were wary of putting their lives in the care of the electronic calculating machines, which were prone to hiccups and blackouts.

As a part of the preflight checklist, Glenn asked engineers to “get the girl” — Johnson — to run the same numbers through the same equations that had been programmed into the computer, but by hand, on her desktop mechanical calculating machine.

“If she says they’re good,” Johnson remembers Glenn saying, “then I’m ready to go.” Glenn’s flight was a success, and marked a turning point in the competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in space. (Quelle)

R_1966-L-06717 001

R_1966-L-06717 001