Ada Lovelace Day 2013, a celebration of women in science

Ada Lovelace Day - celebrating women in scienceI wrote a piece for my other blog as well as re-using it here for International Women’s Day so for this year I have decided to delve deeper into the world of science, engineering and more of the women who have left their mark in the history of science and, unfortunately, a lot of them that a great deal of us have never heard of or we just don’t have any records surviving of their deeds as men tend to take the credit for their hard work.

These maybe the women who helped keep the computers running at Bletchley Park during World War II via the programmers at MIT who helped guide the Apollo capsules to the moon and then on to today’s designers of the next generation of computer processors.

This year I’m going away from a list of specific people but to cover more of what women have done in science.  I don’t know where this will take us but it’ll be a fun way to find out how.

A great place to start to finding images of what women have done in science is head over to the Great Images in NASA (GRIN) website. Just type in women and away you go.

One that I have used over on a tumblr that I maintain is from the GRIN website and is this great one of Melba Roy.

Melba Roy. NASA Computer

Melba Roy heads the group of NASA mathematicians, known as “computers,” who track the Echo satellites. Roy’s computations help produce the orbital element timetables by which millions can view the satellite from Earth as it passes overhead.

After quite a lot of digging around the internet I discovered that, after this photo was taken, she re-married to a Webster Mouton and became Melba Roy Mouton. That as well as going on to quite a distinguished career with NASA until her retirement in 1973.

Twenty years earlier than that photo was taken, we get this famous one of two British WRENs working on the first electronic digital computer, The Colossus at Bletchley Park AKA Station X.

A Colossus Mark 2 computer. The operators are (left to right) Dorothy Du Boisson and Elsie Booker.
A Colossus Mark 2 computer. The operators are (left to right) Dorothy Du Boisson and Elsie Booker.

Coming full circle, back to the mid 1960s with the programming of the Apollo Guidance Computer. The lady is, to use a good word, knitting the program. Called LOL Memory by the programmers at MIT. The LOL stood for “Little Old Ladies” who knitted the programs.

Knitting the way to the moon
Knitting the way to the moon?