Valerie Thomas: NASA and her Invention: An Illusion Transmitter
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Valarie Thomas was born in Maryland in the month of May of 1943. When she was young, math and science was not encouraged of her, but soon she developed a fascination with the mysteries of technology. At eight years old, she borrowed a book from the library, called “The Boy’s First Book on Electronics.” Although, her father was also interested in electronics, he would not help her with any of the projects that were found in the book. For in the 1950s most parents and schools didn’t deem electronics and other scientific subjects to be a suitable career for women. Valerie attended an all-girls high school. While in high school, she decided to take accelerated math classes, she also continued to work on her technological ability as more of a curiosity.
After Thomas graduated from college, she finally got a chance to work on what she was interested in at Morgan State University. She became one of only two women in her class to graduate with a degree in physics. Thomas was an outstanding student; soon she accepted a position with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), where she served as a mathematician and a data analyst. After staying diligent to her work, Valerie grew to be a valued NASA employee. In the 1970s she was soon asked to manage the “Landsat” project, which was the first satellite competent enough to transmit images from space to Earth.
In 1976, Thomas was present at a scientific symposium where she surveyed an exhibit displaying an illusion. The exhibit utilized concave mirrors to trick the onlooker into assuming that an illuminated bulb was glowing even after it had been unscrewed from the socket. She was so fascinated by what she observed that she believed this would be extensive if, ...
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...ossessed with three dimensional attributes. The optical effect may be explained by the fact that the human eyes see an object from two viewpoints separated laterally by about six centimeters. The two views show slightly different spatial relationships between near and near distant objects and the visual process fuses these stereoscopic views to a single three dimensional impression. The same parallax view of an object may be experienced upon reflection of an object seen from a concave mirror." (http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4229761.html).
Work on the illusion transmitter had to fade into insignificance, until her retirement from NASA in 1995, she had a very prosperous career at the office.
She had served in such positions as project manager for the Space Physics Analysis Network (SPAN), and not long ago an linked chief of the Space Science Data Operations Office.