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Meet Katie Bouman, the woman who transformed our view of black holes forever



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Social media wants you to know Katie Bouman's name.


Screenshot / CNET

It's been a huge day for science. And an even bigger day for female researchers.

On Wednesday, Earthlings got our first direct look at a black hole thanks to Event Horizon Telescope a selection of eight radio telescopes around the world working together to create the image. But in the midst of making jokes about how the image sorta sees the eye of Sauron and wondering how this newfound information could affect Albert Einstein's gravity theories, social media focused on ensuring one of the women behind the project gets the credit to their contributions.

Katie Bouman, a MIT degree, helped develop a computer program while still in school. Together with others, it helped to create the image of the black hole. She also conducted tests to verify the images.

Part of what made her popular is two images that spread across social media. On a photo from the BBC, Bouman stands beside a table stacked with hard drives of data. Some noted that the picture resembles an iconic 1969 image of Margaret Hamilton with the print of the Apollo tutorial program she and her team developed.

Another reason her name suddenly shoots around social media: History has rarely given women scientists the recognition they deserve. Take Hidden Characters who, for example, told the story of the women who calculated John Glenn's flight path.

Bouman did not respond promptly to a request for comment, but told CNN, "None of us could have done it alone. It came together because of many different people from many backgrounds."

She also wrote a photo on Facebook about her reaction to seeing the black hole images.

Bouman delivered a TED speech in 2016 called "How to Take a picture of a black hole, "where she explained" getting this first picture will come down to an international team of scientists, a ground-breaking telescope and an algorithm that puts the last picture together. "


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