Tuesday, 25 June, 2019

Meet the woman behind the first-ever image of a black hole

The MIT Computer Scientist Whose Algorithm Led To The First Real Image Of A Black Hole Area scientists celebrate first picture of a black hole
Sandy Nunez | 12 April, 2019, 13:41

"Telescopes around the world collected high-frequency radio waves from the vicinity of Messier 87, a supermassive black hole 54 million light-years away".

Actress Olivia Munn also chimed in, sharing, "We got the very first photo of a black hole because of an awesome team led by MIT grad student Katie Bouman, who helped create the algorithm that made the image possible". Originally from IN, her father is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University.

She spearheaded development of a computer algorithm that made the scientific discovery possible.

Nasa has unveiled the first-ever photo of a black hole, and we have Katie Bouman to thank for that.

Way back in 2016, her TED talk focused on how to take a picture of a black hole, where she explained the importance of scientists, telescopes, and algorithms coming together to get the world the first image of the black hole.

Bouman, a graduate student at Harvard, worked with a team of three fellow researchers to create and develop the algorithms that made the image possible.

The volume of data - several petabytes (several million billion bytes) - was contained in a mountain of computer hard drives weighing several hundred pounds that had to be physically transported to the Haystack Observatory in Westford, Massachusetts, operated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Katie is set to start teaching as an assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology in the fall.

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The effort to capture the image, using telescopes in locations ranging from Antarctica to Chile, involved a team of more than 200 scientists.

It has been nearly a century since Albert Einstein first made the historic prediction of the existence of black holes in his theory of gravity.

IMAGE: Reaction of Katie Bouman, who led the creation of an algorithm to produce first image of black hole. In addition, black holes by definition are supposed to be invisible - although they can give off a shadow when they interact with the material around them.

Now we know that Bouman's work was definitely up to the task. But in the midst of making jokes about how that photo kinda sorta looks the eye of Sauron and wondering how this newfound information could impact Albert Einstein's theories of gravity, social media focused on making sure one of the women behind the project gets credit for her contributions.

Black holes are areas so massive they warp space and time so much that even light can not escape.

Does a black hole seem like the internet's usual meme fodder?

At just 29, Dr. Kate Bouman has done something few others have: made history.