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Meet Gladys West, The “Hidden Figure” Behind The Creation Of The GPS

The humble history of the woman who brought you Global Positioning System (GPS).

Gone are the days when people are contented with asking other people for directions while on the road. If you are using a smartphone, chances are you are using GPS as well. Now everyone knows what a GPS is, but do you know who Gladys West is? She made it possible for you to navigate easy peasy.

Gladys West is a mathematician, one of those who developed Global Positioning System. She isn’t exactly a household name, but interested in her increased when she wrote a biography for a sorority function, in which she mentioned her important contribution.

Gladys West pictured with her husband.

When Gladys West, an 87-year-old dedicated member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, put together a short biography for herself to be recognized as one of her chapter’s beloved senior members. She had no idea that what she would share would be so noteworthy to the surprise of her sorority sisters. She outlined her outstanding 42-year career at the Dahlgren, VA Naval Base as a mathematician.

West revolutionized how we navigate the world.

One line in her bio stood out as she described her contributions to the team who began to develop the early Global Positioning System, or GPS as we know it today, in the 1950s and 1960s. West’s recollection of this time in her professional career soon revealed her as a “hidden figure” amongst her proud sorority sisters to have contributed to the creation of a technological system that has changed how we navigate the world.

West got involved in programming early computers and collecting information from orbiting machines.

Source: upworthy.com

The data that she mined and her calculations will prove invaluable in the development of GPS. Back then, she and her colleagues have no idea how their work will change the modern world. Her work at Dahlgren focused on collecting data from orbiting satellites that would help to determine their exact location as they transmitted from around the world.

Data was then fed into what became known as “super computers” that were sometimes large enough to fill up entire rooms. West worked on computer software to ensure that calculations for surface elevations and geoid heights were accurate. She took pride in knowing that data that she was entering was correct.

She would work tirelessly to make certain of her work’s accuracy.

GPS is used in almost every smart device, from mobile phones to pet collars. It definitely changed how we explore, work, and navigate.

“When you’re working every day, you’re not thinking, ‘What impact is this going to have on the world?’ You’re thinking, ‘I’ve got to get this right,'” West said in an interview with The Associated Press.

She would continue to work on it for 40 more years until she retired in 1998. After a life of complex data analysis and computations, she went on a well-deserved vacation with her husband, a fellow black mathematician, Ira West, whom she married in 1957.

Gladys suffered a major stroke, but not only did she recover, she also returned to school and earned a doctorate. Her strength and determination made her survive cancer and heart surgery years later.

Now Gladys West is in her late eighties, working on her memoir and spending quality time with family. Despite her extraordinary contribution to the creation of GPS, according to her oldest daughter, West still likes to have a paper map on hand.

Sci/Tech

Ancient 99-Million-Year-Old Frogs Look Just Like Modern-Day Toads

Frogs will always be frogs, whether they were born today or in the Cretaceous Period.

The world is filled with exciting new discoveries from ancient times. Scientists have just uncovered evidence that frogs roamed the Earth during the Cretaceous Period about 100 million years ago. Interestingly, these ancient toads seem to look just like their modern-day descendants.

A new report confirms that scientists have found four frog fossils in northern Myanmar. The tiny bodies were encased in amber and offer a clear glimpse at what tropical rainforests looked like in the Cretaceous Period. In any case, the discovery is groundbreaking since frogs rarely become fossils.

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Elon Musk’s Flamethrowers Get Misused On Social Media Despite Strict Terms & Conditions

What better way to start a particularly hot summer?

There is little doubt that Elon Musk's flamethrowers are the hottest new commodity right now. After all, the fiery device produced by The Boring Company have just been sold out. However, it looks like consumers have already started misusing the dangerous product despite its lengthy terms and conditions.

The Boring Company finally rolled out Not A Flamethrower at a celebrated pick up event held at the company's headquarters. People who had pre-ordered the gadgets were given a chance to sample the power of the flamethrower on unfortunate marshmallows. Although safety was reinforced during the event, things took a dangerous turn once everyone got home.

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NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds Ancient Organics On Mars, Possible Life On Planet In The Past

The new discovery might confirm life thrived on the Red Planet billions of years ago.

Curiosity has made an exciting discovery on the surface of Mars. The rover has just found possible evidence of life on the planet billions of years ago. NASA might not quite ready to confirm that creatures once roamed the Red Planet. Nevertheless, the agency believes that the findings could mean positive things for future missions.

The NASA rover has found organic molecules in sedimentary rocks near the planet's surface. These molecules may contain hydroxen, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen and are usually associated with life. However, their presence in the billion-year-old rocks does not confirm life on Mars just yet.

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