Black Holes in the Internet Age

Shaughn Ramsden

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Black Holes in the Internet Age

 

On April 10th, 2019, the world saw what was thought to be the unseeable. A massive network of telescopes stretching across the entire globe called the Event Horizon zoomed in enough to take the first ever picture of a black hole. To understand how amazing this feat of science is, one must understand what a black hole is and why it’s so hard to photograph in the first place.

A black hole’s gravity is so intense that nothing, including light can pass through its edge. That being said special black holes called supermassive black holes stand out due to their glowing ring of gasses that surround it. The science community has been studying black holes for so long that seeing one is ground breaking. The image itself aligns with what we thought a black hole should look like according to Einstein’s theory of relativity. The way the gas ring appears around the black hole helps verify said theory of relativity which in itself is a massive step for our understanding of how the universe works.

The woman who fronted the team of scientists responsible for the photographs name is Dr. Katie Bouman. Assisted by a team of computer scientists and astrophysicists from MIT and Harvard she developed the algorithm that made the picture of the black hole possible. Put simply, Dr Bouman developed a series of algorithms that converted telescopic data into the historic photo. Her method of using this algorithm to process raw data was said to be instrumental in the creation of the famous image. She spearheaded a testing process where many mathematical equations attempted to recover a photo from the data. Dr. Bouman who is now an assistant professor of mathematical sciences at the California Institute of Technology, insisted the team that helped her deserves equal credit.

At 29 years old, Katie Bouman should be an inspiration to this generation, proving what new feats we are capable of. However in the age of short attention spans and social media her name will most likely be forgotten along with her story when the new flashy clickbait article starts trending.

We are more prone to lend our attention to the personalities that are constantly in the media’s attention. Whether it be what one of the Kardashians said about their numerous ex-husbands or what Beyonce named her newborn. These personalities are this generation’s idols rather than these groundbreaking scientists. Not only this but by the next day people are likely to forget this monumental achievement even happened as new information floods onto the internet and cable news outlets alike. There’s no telling what advancements lay ahead in the science field or any other field for that matter, when they come let’s hope we all still care enough to give those advancements some attention.

 

By: Shaughn Ramsden