Why the world is talking about MIT graduate Katie Bouman

Why the world is talking about Katie Bouman

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.

Bouman had developed the program while still at school and more recently has been working secretly on leading the testing to verify the images.

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.

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.”

Bouman’s role in the development is being reported as particularly significant given the shortage of women in STEM around the world.

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.

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