If you were wondering how they would possibly make a movie about math interesting, let me tell you: when people’s lives hinge on getting the math exactly right, then you will also be on the edge of your seat, hoping the problem gets solved in time.
That’s basically the big crux of Hidden Figures: finding the correct equations that will allow NASA to compute the precise trajectory to get a man into space and bring him back again without setting the pod on fire or sending it careening off back into space.
But the math is just the plot. The story itself is about the unsung heroes of NASA, the black women who did the calculations that made the flights possible in the first place. These “colored computers,” as they were called, were some of the most brilliant mathematicians at NASA. Hidden Figures focuses on three in particular: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson.