The black hole photo: what you did’nt know about Katie Bauman

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With just 29 years old, Katy Bouman is a postdoctoral researcher at the Event Horizon Telescope and future professor at Caltech

The black hole photo: what you did'nt know about Katie Bauman

In the last week, we all witnessed how the first photo of a black hole invaded social media and went viral. From memes to mentions by distinguished members of the scientific community, this photo has been one of the most widespread and celebrated scientific events outside the scientific community in recent years.

Leer en español: La foto del agujero negro: lo que no sabias de Katie Bauman

However, at the same time that the popularity of the photo was growing, a photo of a young scientist with her hands crossed over her mouth and a face of emotion -next to a computer with the photo of the black hole- began to spread. This young woman is Katie Bouman, the engineer behind the algorithm that managed to join all the pieces of the telescopic records of the hole.

Here, at LatinAmerican Post, we tell you more about her.

Who is Katie Bauman?

Katie Bouman, originally from Indiana, is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Event Horizon Telescope and will next take on the position of assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), according to the official website of the California institution. In addition to the above, she completed her undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Harbor; she has two masters degrees, one in engineering from the same university and another in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a university in which she also completed her doctorate.

The young scientist finished in the project to photograph the black hole, led by the astronomer and Harvard professor, Shep Doeleman, by a coincidence that led her to sneak into a meeting in which the project was explained.

As she states in an interview with The Washington Post, "at the time I did not even know what a black hole was. I had no idea what I had no idea what I had no idea was talking about, but when I left that meeting I knew that this is something that I wanted to work on".

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Thus, after a while, the scientist ended up being part of the team of more than 200 researchers, of whom 40 were women, who worked on the titanic task of taking a real picture of what a black hole looks like.

This discovery, beyond its visual impact, would help to verify so many physical theories that are based on mathematical models to support postulates, such as Einstein's law of relativity.

A team work

Just as it is important to recognize the algorithm of Dr. Bouman, it is also worth clarifying that the photo was the product of the joint efforts of a large team of scientists who put their knowledge and time at the disposal of the project.

As Bouman states in a post on her Facebook, "I'm so excited that we finally get to share what we have been working on for the past year! The image shown today is the combination of images produced by multiple methods. a team of scientists from around the globe and years of hard work to develop the instrument, data processing, imaging methods, and analysis techniques that were necessary to pull off this seemingly impossible feat".

Also, it is necessary to move away from a narrative of genius that could discover something by himself. As Sara Issoun, another engineer who worked in the research, in a New York Times article, said "the diversity and group effort and the breadth of our collaboration, I think, is worth celebration", while warning about the danger of the history of the lone wolf.


LatinAmerican Post | Gabriel Bocanegra
Translates from: "La foto del agujero negro: lo que no sabías de Katie Bauman"

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