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Women in STEM - Valerie Thomas

The next time you see a 3D image, give a little thanks to American Scientist, Valerie Thomas.

Dr. Valerie L. Thomas was born in Baltimore, MD in 1943. From a very young age she was interested in figuring out how things worked, and would watch her father tinker with the tv set for hours. She asked him repeatedly to teach her how to do the same, but she was regularly discouraged from pursuing it, instead being told to learn to sew and braid hair, just like her mom. It wasn’t until Valerie went to college, where she majored in Physics, that she would have the chance to learn how to figure out how everything works, and she landed a job working with NASA right out of college in 1964.

Valerie’s team at NASA was dedicated to processing the images that were being sent back to earth from the Landsat Satellite(s). Her team was responsible for receiving and translating some of the first multispectral images ever sent from space. Valerie became the go-to person on the team for translating data from the satellites to the scientists on her team. Eventually, she had to write a book in order to explain everything about this process to scientists from across the world.

In the 1970s, Valerie invented what she called the Illusion Transmitter. This early 3D technology is responsible for sending 3-Dimensional images across distances using mirrors. To date, this technology is still in use by NASA, as well as in the development of television and video screens.

For even more information about this incredible American Scientist, please read her wikipedia page.

And you can watch this interview with Dr. Valerie Thomas, herself:

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