Episode Description

When we first started researching Klára Dán von Neumann, we thought she was “the computer scientist you should thank for your smartphone's weather app.” It turns out, that’s not true.

We saw the story over and over again: computer programmer Klára Dán von Neumann was a pioneer in weather forecasting. But when we talked to Thomas Haigh, a historian who studies Klári’s work, he said he’s found absolutely no evidence of this. How did this weather myth start? We set out to answer that question, and in the process, we asked this: Why is it so tempting to credit the wrong person, even when that false credit is given with the best of intentions?

Note: we’d like to acknowledge the operators of the ENIAC who ran the 1950 weather simulation, Homé McAllister and Clyde Hauff.

Episode Transcript

Katie Hafner

Host & Executive Producer

Katie Hafner is a longtime reporter for The New York Times, where she continues to be a frequent contributor, writing on healthcare and technology. Katie is uniquely positioned to tell these stories. Not only does she bring a skilled hand to complex narratives, but she has been writing about women in STEM for nearly 30 years. The author of six works of non-fiction, she is currently the host and executive producer of Our Mothers Ourselves, an interview podcast that celebrates extraordinary mothers.