Being famous on the internet is not always a good thing. But for Katie Bouman, an MIT graduate, who might just be the most famous woman on the internet today, it’s all good. Her fame is likely to endure well beyond 15 minutes due to her role in an exceptional historic development in science.
Bouman, a computer scientist, led the creation of a new algorithm to produce the first-ever image of a black hole. On Wednesday that image was finally released.
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) April 10, 2019
Bouman had developed the program while still at school and more recently has been working secretly on leading the testing to verify the images.
Take your rightful seat in history, Dr. Bouman! 🔭
Congratulations and thank you for your enormous contribution to the advancements of science and mankind.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 10, 2019
In the initial reporting of the event her name and contribution, to what she herself describes as a huge team effort, wasn’t front and centre but social media swiftly changed that.
1969: Margaret Hamilton alongside the code that got us to the moon
2019: Katie Bouman alongside the data that got us to the black hole pic.twitter.com/aIPOtdfA3F
— Ben Halpern 🤗 (@bendhalpern) April 10, 2019
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) April 10, 2019
In 2016 Katie Bouman delivered a TedX talk called “How to take a picture of a black hole,” in which she explained that “getting this first picture will come down to an international team of scientists, an Earth-sized telescope and an algorithm that puts together the final picture.”
— TEDx (@TEDx) April 10, 2019
Bouman’s role in the development is being reported as particularly significant given the shortage of women in STEM around the world.
😮Today, the 1st-ever image of a #BlackHole has been revealed to the world. 🔭
🎉Huge congrats to Katie Bouman, who made it possible! 👏
— UN Women (@UN_Women) April 10, 2019
— MIT CSAIL (@MIT_CSAIL) April 11, 2019
SO cool – way to go Katie Bouman! (love your name btw😊) Thanks to Katie, who spearheaded the development of a special algorithm, scientists were able to capture the impossible. #GirlsInSTEM https://t.co/hyj65GOGrW
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) April 10, 2019
That a young woman in America has played such a pivotal role in making the ‘impossible possible’ in computer science is powerful in its imagery. Literally.