At just age 29 she has made a big place for herself in history. Katherine Bouman's expertise is in computer algorithms, and she created one that has helped give humankind its first image of a black hole. A century ago Einstein's theory of general relativity offered the idea that when enough matter was crammed into one place the force of gravity would be so overpowering that it would swallow everything including space, time, light. The prospect seems to have spooked him into doubling down against the possibility of its existence.
Years later when the phenomenon actually got the name black hole, it is said to have been 'inspired' by the eponymous Calcutta prison which, allegedly, prisoners never left alive. Today we have an image of this spooky phenomenon couldn't a black hole swallow up our universe someday thanks to intrepid scientists like Bouman from across the world, who collaborated to convert telescope observations of an enormous galaxy 55 million light years away where the black hole casts a shadow as big as our solar system, into a magical image, that is being variously characterised as Eye of Sauron, Bagel Galactica and Golden Doughnut.
How far we have come and how far we have to go. In more neurosexist times women's smaller brains were seen as proof of their inferior intellect. Even today there are social barriers to women's progress in STEM fields. Exemplars like Bouman make the strongest case for uprooting these barriers.
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