Meet The Mind Behind The Black Hole Photo

Olivia Munn

Olivia Munn

Dr. Katie Bouman, who helped capture the first image of a black hole, has become the target of misogynistic conspiracy theories online.

The photographed black hole, for instance, is 500 million trillion km away from Earth.

Katie Bouman, a computer scientist who was a student studying at MIT, is the person who is credited with coming up with the algorithm that made the capturing of the image possible.

Back in 2016, Bouman developed the algorithm which was used to create the groundbreaking image, working with a team of researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the MIT Haystack Observatory. "We've seen meaningful progress as a result and are committed to making more improvements going forward". "It was quite spectacular", she told BBC Radio 5 live. "We got really lucky with the weather..."

We get this partial information.

If that sentence didn't make you want to hurl, some idiots on the net actually agree with him that a woman can't make a scientific discovery. "Today, that image was released".

According to her website, Bouman is now a postdoctoral fellow with EHT and will start as an assistant professor in Caltech's computing and mathematical sciences department.

Though her work developing algorithms was crucial to the project, she sees her real contribution as bringing a way of thinking to the table.

"We are trying to change that", she said. Bouman's specialty is using "emerging computational methods to push the boundaries of interdisciplinary imaging", according to the bio on her website.

"We've taken a number of steps to address this including surfacing more authoritative content across our site for people searching for news-related topics, beginning to reduce recommendations of borderline content and showing information panels with more sources where they can fact check information for themselves", a YouTube spokesperson told Business Insider.

Due to their long wavelengths, radio waves require large antenna dishes, but the largest single radio-telescope dish in the world has a diameter of just 1,000 ft, which would be unable to take sharp images of even the moon, let alone a black hole.

Put simply, Dr Bouman and others developed a series of algorithms that converted telescopic data into the historic photo shared by the world's media.

The data from eight of those telescopes were collected on hundreds of hard drives and flown in to a central processing center.

Bouman comprehensively described the process in a 2017 TED Talk. It's an image years in the making - one that required a global network of eight telescopes and an worldwide team of over 200 astronomers, physicists, mathematicians, and engineers.

In a series of Twitter posts, he said three separate software libraries were involved in the creation of the black hole image and that while he wrote much of the code for one of those image pipelines, it would not have worked without Katie's contributions and input from others. "If all of them recover the same general structure, then that builds your confidence".

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