girls and engineering

What’s really incredible about Mad Max: Fury Road is that our titular, brooding White Male Lead in an Action Movie™ is given no opportunities to appear badass or heroic unless he’s working as a team or directly helping the women.

We see Max alone in the desert, all brooding and action-hero-y, clearly haunted by a tragic past… and he’s immediately captured, chained, humiliated and spends the next half hour tied up and useless while Furiosa is off getting shit done.

Then he gets free and he comes in waving a gun around and embarrassing himself. It’s not until Furiosa calms him down, wins him over, and he starts following her orders that he’s allowed to appear properly badass - in an action sequence that begins with him handing her a gun, and which progresses with the two of them working as the ultimate team while the girls help him as much as he defends them.

Then they’re in the Night Bog. Max fails to hit the Bullet Farmer and instead becomes a prop to steady Furiosa’s shot. Then he runs off on a solo mission and it doesn’t even merit screen time. Some dude lone wolfing it to kill a scary bad guy? Who cares. Let’s watch Nux running in front of the rig and the girls cooling down the engines instead.

Then comes the final chase. Max is undeniably awesome, but he is only allowed to be awesome because all of his efforts are dedicated to helping and protecting his weird new family. And the instant he hears Furiosa is hurt, all of his badass moments are pivoted around reaching her. He fights a hundred war boys, jumps over trucks, swings off poles, sets of explosions, beats someone with a flamethrower guitar, just so he can be there to catch Furiosa once she has killed the big bad Immortan Joe.

And, of course, his biggest heroic moment in the film isn’t even a cool action sequence or taking out a villain - it’s saving someone’s life. It’s being selfless and compassionate. It’s expressing love and humanity. It’s acting as a nurse and donating his blood. Max’s triumph is fixing something that’s broken.

Then, at the end, instead of being rewarded with a sexy girl and something else cool like most action heroes, Max gets nothing. He gives everything to Furiosa - his love, his loyalty, his fighting skills, his blood, his name - and he takes nothing in return, nor does he feel he is owed anything. He is content simply to help her, and thanks to this love and selflessness he was able to achieve some kind of redemption. 

In Fury Road, a man’s heroism is not determined by how strong or tough he is - it is defined by how willing he is to love, help, support and protect others, particularly women, while demanding nothing in return. 

Mary Jackson

(1921–2005) Mathematician and engineer

Mary Jackson was a human computer at Langley Research Center, as part of the West Area Computers. She then became the first black woman engineer at NASA at its founding in 1958. After 34 years at NASA, she asked for a demotion in order to serve as a Federal Equal Opportunity Specialist with NASA. She was also a Girl Scout leader for more than thirty years. She retired in 1985.

Number 182 in an ongoing series celebrating remarkable women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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“The fallacy in Hollywood is that if you’re making a ‘feminist’ story, the woman kicks ass and wins. That’s not feminist, that’s macho. Unfortunately, there are still not that many girls going into science, engineering, and technology. Jane’s got a mission. She’s looking for something for herself, gravitational anomalies, scientific exploration.”

Every person in the States needs to watch Hidden Figures.

Because holy shit that movie is incredible.

The way it portrayed racism in the civil rights era is chilling. Not just because of how unjust segregation was, but because of how it does not shy away from showing that segregation was a matter of white complacency. There are plenty of Well Meaning White People™ in the movie who are likeable, whose failure isn’t that they are bad because they are racist but who uphold a racist system because they never consider that it’s unjust.

Like, there’s no Racist Boss the protagonists have to overcome and then Things Are Great and Not Racist. It’s just continual people-to-people interaction and step-by-step push against the great jello-like weight of systematic racism.

It’s just a really good movie, okay? I cried a lot.

This Week @ NASA

Astronauts conduct a spacewalk on the International Space Station to prepare it for future activities. Peggy Whitson became the new women’s record holder for number of spacewalks and more!

International Space Station

Work continued aboard the International Space Station. Spacewalkers Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson used the station’s robotic arm to move the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 on March 24 to move a module to accommodate U.S. commercial spacecraft carrying astronauts on future missions. They continued this work on March 30. Another spacewalk to complete the work is slated for April.

James Webb Space Telescope

Engineers at our Goddard Space Flight Center Center complete vibration and acoustic tesing on the James Webb Space Telescope, which was subjected to earsplitting noice and shaken 50-100 times per second to simulate the rigors of launch.

MAVEN

Data from our MAVEN, our Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, and published in the journal Science, concludes that solar wind and radiation are responsible for stripping Mars of its atmosphere and turning it into the frigid desert world it is today.

Most of the gas ever in the Red Planet’s atmosphere has been lost to space. The MAVEN team focused on the gas argon, estimating that 65% of it has been stripped from the planet. In 2015, the science team determined that atmospheric gas continues to be lost to space.

STEM Education

We participated in a Women’s History Month celebration and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The program feature NASA astronauts and engineers. The were also projects to get girls interested in sciene, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education. There was also a screening of the film ‘Hidden Figures,’ which relates the story of African-American female mathematicians who were instrumental in the agency’s efforts to launch humans to space.

NASA App on Fire TV

We’ve released our latest free NASA app on a whole new platform–Amazon Fire TV! The app is already available for Apple TV, iOS, and Android.Viewers can stream NASA TV, access 16,000+, download video and more!

Download the app: www.nasa.gov/nasaapp

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