Why the world is talking about Katie Bouman

Olive Hawkins
April 12, 2019

"Computer scientist Katie Bouman and her awesome stack of hard drives for #EHTblackhole image data", Nature News writer Flora Graham tweeted with an image of the two MIT computer scientists side by side.

Naturally, this momentous occasion propelled Bouman to well-deserved fame, and social media platforms are still ringing with praise for her achievement. There has been incredibly strong evidence that black holes exist for a long time, but this still isn't the same as directly observing the thing itself.

It's thanks to her and a huge team of other scientist and engineers that we can really begin to understand the incredible phenomena of black holes. With the extra imaging muscle, she says, they may one day be able to create videos of black holes in addition to the still images. Bouman also headed a testing team that verified the image for the world to see. Though Bouman was one of several women who worked on the Event Horizon Telescope team, the majority of her colleagues on the project were men.

"It was fantastic to see that first ring, but it was even more unbelievable that we all produced the ring", said Bouman, who is joining the faculty at the California Institute of Technology this year.

The MIT Grad, Katie, was still in school when she helped develop a computer program that created the image of the black hole.

So, after the stunning image was revealed to the world Wednesday, Bouman's excitement spilled out at what seemed the speed of light.

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Excitedly bracing herself for the groundbreaking moment, Dr Bouman was pictured loading the image on her laptop.

Bouman is a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, reported the Post.

Her profile picture on Facebook was captioned: "Watching in disbelief as the first image ever made of a black hole was in the process of being reconstructed". The algorithms they developed seamlessly stitched together the data to create the wondrous image we see today.

"I've been involved with the project since 2007", he said. Not only was Hamilton's work highly significant for the lunar landings, but also paved the way for women in science and technology. The project combined experts from all sorts of scientific backgrounds, ranging from physicists to mathematicians, and she saw the work through the lens of computer science, stressing the importance of running tests on synthetic data and making sure that the methods they used to make the image kept human bias out of the equation.

Black holes are the "most extreme environment in the known universe", Broderick said, a violent, churning place of "gravity run amok".

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