Hidden Figures: a Story of Space, Race, and the Space Race

By Katie Hansche, '18

The recent box office hit Hidden Figures (2017) illuminates a once virtually unknown story of the female computers involved NASA’s Project Mercury in the 1960s. The movie stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, and Octavia Spencer as the main trifecta. This film offers a glimpse into Jim Crow era Virginia with an upbeat undertone led by African American women making their mark on segregation and the establishment thereof.

Beginning in 1958 and continuing until 1963, NASA’s Project Mercury was initiated in response to Russia’s attempts to put the first man in space. The untold story of the computers, particularly African American women, put the Jim Crow era into perspective. The women who calculated all of the mathematics and physics required to put men in space were the untold facet until Margot Lee Shetterly’s novel Hidden Figures hit the shelves. The story starts with Henson as Katherine Goble, and her friends Mary Jackson (Monáe), and Dorothy Vaughn (Spencer), calculating in the colored west wing of Langley Research Station.

Goble was the mathematician whose analytic geometry calculated the launch and landing trajectories for launches up to Alan Shepard's Friendship-7 suborbital launch and including putting the first American man, John H. Glenn, Jr., into Earth’s orbit. While balancing being a single mother with three children, Katherine worked days, nights, and anything in between to secure her position in the program.

Mary Jackson, portrayed by Monáe, was a theoretical physicist for the engineering aspect of Project Mercury with such a good mind that she was encouraged to get her engineering degree despite Virginia’s segreation laws. Also balancing children and a social life, Mary Jackson pushed political and social lines within NASA and the Virginia government, which helped her eventually become NASA’s first female African American Engineer.

Dorothy Vaughn, depicted by Spencer, did the work of a supervisor without the pay or title until she faced obsolescence when the first computer, the International Business Machine (IBM), came to NASA. She made herself and the ladies she supervised fluent in IBM’s coding language when the first computers came about to ensure her position in NASA, while pushing norms and becoming NASA’s first female African American supervisor.

The women in this story bravely faced adversity when there was no mercy for those who stood up to inequality. These ladies not only took down barriers within NASA, but changed how we view the Mercury program and its components. It takes all kinds to complete anything, and this movie sheds light on the not-so-kind racist and sexist characteristics of the 1960s without taking away from the brilliance and empowerment of the story. With fairly static camera action, the cinematography of the film frames personal and climactic scenes with ease.

A delight to watch, Hidden Figures tackles heavy topics without losing the warmth and sense of victory that the story is radiating, and with a soundtrack featuring Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer, audiences cannot help but feel proud of these women and the contributions they made to the American Space Race and civil rights history.

Book Review: “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” 

By Ciara Anderson, ‘16

“Harry Potter” fans rejoiced this past summer as the eighth installment of the series was released. J.K. Rowling joined forces with Jack Thorne to create a play and a book to add to the Wizarding World. It was an exciting idea that answered many questions that were left unanswered from previous installments.

The book is simply a script from the play that has garnered much attention. The last we saw Harry was in “The Deathly Hallows.” This book introduced the characters Albus Severus, James Sirius, Lily Luna, and Rose and Hugo Granger-Weasley that are revisited in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” The basis of the story surrounds Albus Severus Potter (Harry and Ginny’s son) and Scorpius Malfoy‘s (Draco’s son) quest to save Cedric Diggory. Or rather, simultaneously fix everything they ruined in the process.

Cedric Diggory is a main character in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” the fourth book in the series, who (spoiler alert) dies and leaves Harry feeling guilty for the rest of his life. Cedric is a loveable character, which is why his appearance in this new book was exciting. Book fans knew of Harry’s guilt throughout the rest of the series, but to base an entire script off of that—stroke of genius.

The unanswered questions: what’s going to happen to the children? Where is Harry and the gang now? Has the wizarding world stayed peaceful throughout this entire time?

This is 19 years’ worth of questions of course not in real time, though it feels like it. All of them were answered somewhat and the book was action packed, bringing old characters back to life and making us fall in love with the new ones!

Unfortunately, this book only reached my expectations, it did not exceed them. The other releases left me excited to read the next book, while this one only made me feel content that there was another Harry Potter continuation. I wish the father and son relationship between Harry and Albus was more concise. When we first met Albus it seemed like he and Harry were the closest out of all his children, then this relationship became hazy. They didn’t want to be related at one point, and then Albus suddenly wanted to save Harry’s reputation with Cedric Diggory’s death? Of course this makes for an amazing plot and shows that Harry’s stubbornness that fans have grown to love did not fall far from the tree, but a bit more clarity with their relationship would have made this book an A+.

I would recommend this book to everyone, the only requirement I have is to read the first seven books and fall in love with the greatest pieces of fiction of our time.

Netflix original “Peaky Blinders” a must watch historical drama featuring glorified gangsters

By Amanda Barbato, ‘19

As I was browsing through my suggested shows I saw “Peaky Blinders.” I didn’t really understand the name and normally I am not interested in historical dramas, but I decided to give the first episode a shot based on the positive reviews.

I watched the first episode and half of the first season all within the same day. Between the dynamic characters, the brilliant settings, and the English accents – I was hooked.

The series surrounds a group of glorified gangsters from Birmingham after WWI known as the “Peaky Blinders.” They are all well known as gamblers, running a popular horse racing company, Shelby Company Limited. The show focuses on the Shelby’s expanding their kingdom, their run-ins with the law, and the relations among the Shelby family.

The Shelby’s, gypsies, gain the attention of a detective in the Royal Irish Constabulary and spend their days manipulating, being manipulated, and becoming ‘kin’ with other gangs for protection.

The “Peaky Blinders” is based on the true story of the Peaky Blinders, a real gang who operated after the war known for their style of flat caps and jackets. According to Daily Mail, the name “Peaky Blinders” is said to be derived from the practice of sewing razor blades into the flat parts of their caps which they would use as a weapon to “blind” the rival gang. There are many great points of cinematography in the series, the fight scenes being some of the best.

“Peaky Blinders” was originally a BBC original series. Its popularity prompted Netflix to buy the rights and rework it to a “Netflix Original Series.” This show is definitely for mature audiences; Violence, nudity, and profanity are plentiful.

If you can get past the violence and other mature content, “Peaky Blinders” has an intense storyline involving shocking twists. Absolutely nothing is sacred to this series. Your favorite characters could be killed off completely out of the blue. With each episode you watch your opinion on character will change. Although you witness the terrible acts the Peaky Blinders conduct you might begin to feel sympathy for their characters and end up rooting for them instead of the law.

There are currently three seasons of “Peaky Blinders” on Netflix, with a fourth season in the works. Each season comes with six hour long episodes, so it is very easy to get carried away. 

Photo: Reana Palmer, Nautilus Staff

A bright-eyed and bushy tailed First Lady of Aggieland ready to meet and snap photos with all of her Sea Aggie subject. Reveille IX, also known as Miss Rev, visited the Galveston Campus October 27.

Fun Fact: Reveille went by the birth name Twix and has traveled 1,120 miles from Chagrin Falls, Ohio to take on the role as the official mascot of Texas A&M University.