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Plus, Indeed

by M.G. Siegler


That Image of a Black Hole You Saw Everywhere? Thank Her.

Great story about Katie Bouman, then a grad student at MIT, who was crucial in the creation of the algorithm that would reveal the black hole. Michelle Lou and Saeed Ahmed spoke with her:

"We didn't want to just develop one algorithm. We wanted to develop many different algorithms that all have different assumptions built into them. If all of them recover the same general structure, then that builds your confidence."
The result? A groundbreaking image of a lopsided, ring-like structure that Albert Einstein predicted more than a century ago in his theory of general relativity. In fact, the researchers had generated several photos and they all looked the same. The image of the black hole presented on Wednesday was not from any one method, but all the images from different algorithms that were blurred together.
"No matter what we did, you would have to bend over backwards crazy to get something that wasn't this ring," Bouman said.

Amazing. And per the image below, it's crazy just how close the actual image was to what was expected.


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