Scientist superstar Katie Bouman designed algorithm for black hole image

12 April, 2019, 13:41 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Katie Bouman

Her background was in computer science and electrical engineering.

Jessica Dempsey, another co-discoverer and deputy director of the East Asian Observatory in Hawaii, said the fiery circle reminded her of the flaming Eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

On Wednesday, a picture of Bouman sitting in that tiny, hot room circulated on social media, along with reminders that it is important to acknowledge women scientists.

That's pretty much what she did in creating the algorithm behind the black hole close-up.

"However, since we are only collecting light at a few telescope locations, we are still missing some information about the black hole's image", EHT said. 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.

That's where Bouman and her team went to work. "However, you might be surprised to know that that may soon change", Bouman said.

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. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of MI and went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for her master's and doctorate.

Katie Bouman has worked on the imaging project for the Event Horizon Telescope for about 12 years.

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This image released Wednesday, April 10, 2019, by Event Horizon Telescope shows a black hole.

"Science fiction has become science fact", University of Waterloo theoretical physicist Avery Broderick, one of the leaders of the research team of about 200 scientists from 20 countries, declared as the colourised orange-and-black picture was unveiled.

Bouman's role in the project has been widely celebrated around the world following the presentation of the image.

While she was a graduate student at MIT, Bouman led the development of the algorithm that helped capture the first-of-a-kind image, working with a team from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the MIT Haystack Observatory.

The attention on Bouman may give a skewed impression of the number of women involved in the EHT project.

"It has been truly an honor, and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with you all", she wrote.

"We didn't want to just develop one algorithm". Bouman started trending after a picture of her standing next to a table stacked with hard drives was posted on Twitter and Facebook. Not only was Hamilton's work highly significant for the lunar landings, but also paved the way for women in science and technology. This is known as the black hole's shadow or silhouette.

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