The 29-year-old woman behind the first photo of a black hole
Chances are you've already been talking about it. The first photograph of a black hole in the history of humanity is on the front pages of all the media, on social networks, and breaking news from all over the world. But what not everyone may know is that the person behind this scientific milestone is a 29-year-old woman. Katie Bouman was the creator of the algorithm to create this first image of the astronomical phenomenon.
A graduate in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Katie Bouman led the software development team that helped achieve this unprecedented feat that seemed impossible. So far.
Bouman's algorithm served as the basis for the Even Horizon Telescope to take a spectacularly clear photo of a black hole in a galaxy 53.49 million light years from Earth. Nothing more and nothing less than a network of 8 telescopes linked to each other were needed to get so close to something so far away.
Here's the moment when the first black hole image was processed, from the eyes of researcher Katie Bouman. #EHTBlackHole #BlackHoleDay #BlackHole (v/@dfbarajas) pic.twitter.com/n0ZnIoeG1d— MIT CSAIL (@MIT_CSAIL) April 10, 2019
The 29-year-old scientist, who began developing the algorithm three years ago, now occupies a deserved place in history. However, she has taken great care to emphasize that this has been a team effort. "The algorithm of someone or just one person did not make this image, it required the incredible talent of a team of scientists from all over the world and year after year.The Commission has been working hard to develop the tool, data processing, imaging methods and analysis techniques that were necessary to achieve this impossible feat.It's been a real honor, and I'm very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with all of you," she said on her Facebook account.
Left: MIT computer scientist Katie Bouman w/stacks of hard drives of black hole image data.— MIT CSAIL (@MIT_CSAIL) April 10, 2019
Right: MIT computer scientist Margaret Hamilton w/the code she wrote that helped put a man on the moon.
(image credit @floragraham)#EHTblackhole #BlackHoleDay #BlackHole pic.twitter.com/Iv5PIc8IYd
Of course, Katie is not the first female scientist to achieve a milestone in this field, nor is she the only one. She's just one of a long list that, luckily, doesn't stop growing. The good thing is that now, and not as in the old days, the women behind the great deeds actually get some recognition. And yes, that's why it is necessary to write about it...
Weldone Katie. Your finding is great. Thanks
Go get'em Katie!