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NASA’s “women computers” 🚀

Katherine Johnson helped launch America’s first orbit around Earth. She also “computed the path” that would eventually get Neil Armstrong to the moon. 

In 1962’s Mercury-Atlas launch, astronaut John Glenn personally requested that she hand-crunch the machine’s calculations around the planet.  She confirmed the math a day and a half later.

The 2016 film Hidden Figures pays tribute to Johnson’s seminal role in one of the most important NASA missions in America’s spaceflight history.

Famous artists and their recipes for good luck

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Creatives obsess with how other successful creators do their work. Witness the 2013 bestseller [easyazon_link identifier=”0307273601″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]Daily Rituals[/easyazon_link] by Mason Currey.

But instead of focusing on the productive habits of successful artists, author Ellen Weinstein highlights their oddities.

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Her book [easyazon_link identifier=”1452162182″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]Recipes for Good Luck: The Superstitions, Rituals, and Practices of Extraordinary People[/easyazon_link] contains some fascinating and funny habits.

  • Thom Yorke prepares for live concerts with a headstand ritual
  • NASA engineers eat peanuts before every launch as a lucky charm
  • Picasso held on to his fingernail clippings to maintain his spiritual “essence”
  • Frida Kahlo painted plants and flowers from her desk, looking over her garden

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Creative people can be a bit superstitious, to say the least. As Seth Godin likes to say, “we’re all weird.”

Whatever you do to keep your edge, do it.

(All images courtesy Chronicle Books)


‘It looked like a Life Saver. It looked like a Life Saver up in the sky.’

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via giphy

Annie Dillard first published her essay ‘Total Eclipse’ in 1982. It’s since been republished The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New. Below are a couple of my favorite snippets. Read the entire essay on The Atlantic.

On seeing the total solar eclipse, also known as the path of totality:

If you think very fast, you may have time to think, “Soon it will hit my brain.” You can feel the deadness race up your arm; you can feel the appalling, inhuman speed of your own blood. We saw the wall of shadow coming, and screamed before it hit.


On seeing a partial eclipse:

I had seen a partial eclipse in 1970. A partial eclipse is very interesting. It bears almost no relation to a total eclipse. Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him, or as flying in an airplane does to falling out of an airplane.

Are you excited to see the moon lurch between the sun and the Earth?

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Sometimes we choose not to solve big technological problems. We could travel to Mars if we wished. NASA has the outline of a plan—or, in its bureaucratic jargon, a “design reference architecture.” “Why We Can’t Solve Big Problems
Sometimes we choose not to solve big technological problems. We could travel to Mars if we wished. NASA has the outline of a plan—or, in its bureaucratic jargon, a “design reference architecture.” “Why We Can’t Solve Big Problems” by Jason Pontin