The movie Hidden Figures was released in theaters recently and has been getting good reviews. It also deals with an important time in US history, touching on a number of topics, including civil rights and the Space Race. The movie details the hidden story of Katherine Johnson and her coworkers (Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson) at NASA during the Mercury missions and the United States’ early explorations into manned space flight. The movie focuses heavily on the dramatic civil rights struggle of African American women in NASA at the time, and these struggles are set against the number-crunching ability of Johnson and her coworkers. Computers were in their early days at this time, so Johnson and her team’s ability to perform complicated navigational orbital mechanics problems without the use of a computer provided an important sanity check against the early computer results.
November 14, 2016 — Kathryn Cramer, Technical Communications and Strategy Group
Today is the 300th anniversary of the death of Gottfried Leibniz, a man whose work has had a deep influence on what we do here at Wolfram Research. He was born July 1, 1646, in Leipzig, and died November 14, 1716, in Hanover, which was, at the time, part of the Holy Roman Empire. I associate his name most strongly with my time learning calculus, which he invented in parallel with Isaac Newton. But Leibniz was a polymath, and his ideas and influence were much broader than that. He invented binary numbers, the integral sign and an early form of mechanical calculator.