Nathalia Holt

Boston Massachutsetts, has husband and daughter

Rise of the Rocket Girls

2016 Beaverton Library, 839.4092 HOL


This book is about the personal lives of women working as "computers" at JPL, mostly before the advent of digital computers.

Mathematically-trained women "computers" contributed to the design of space vehicles and missions at JPL. This book describes their dresses in more detail than it describes the actual math. These skilled women balanced work and family in an unenlighted age, and the book dwells on their struggles rather than their cleverness.

These smart women may have followed rote procedures designed by male scientists and engineers, but I imagine they also discovered more efficient and accurate ways to do their work, and made specific technical contributions that I would love to read about.

This book reminds me of the 1992 talking Barbie doll that said "math class is tough". In order to reach the mathematically illiterate, the book avoids stimulating the mathematical imaginations of the next generation. How will girls learn that their junior high math books are a stepping stone towards designing future space missions - or a cure for AIDS?

Dr. Holt received a PhD in biomedical science from Tulane for anti-HIV gene therapy in "humanized" mice; and wrote Cured about that (which I haven't read). In Rigor Mortis, Richard Harris describes how poor mathematical reasoning in the life sciences leads to failed cures and wasted billions in biomedical research. Math avoidance costs lives, as well as our future in space.


Cured: How the Berlin Patients Defeated HIV and Forever Changed Medical Science

2014 Beaverton Library 614.5993 HOL

A more careful and interesting book, since this is Holt's training. Two individual patients of two Berlin doctors triggered AIDS research and clinical trials to duplicate the patients "functional cure". ("sterilizing cure" rids body of virus, xix).

RocketGirls (last edited 2018-01-10 23:17:54 by KeithLofstrom)