Dr. Katie Bouman, the MIT and Caltech professor and researcher who led the team that created the first black hole image, was plainly just sitting there on Twitter, completely ignored by the mainstream media, but not by this Zennie62Media founding blogger or his Oakland News Now blog.
The moment this blogger saw the tweet crediting her with the work behind the first black hole image, up went the first post on Dr. Bouman at Oakland News Now. Only took a little time – then it went viral. And as well it should; consider the reactions by her colleagues, Worldwide:
And in politics…
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
What Dr. Katie Bouman did was amazing, but what’s even more interesting is her story: discovering the Event Horizon Telescope project while she was in high school in Indiana, then forming a career around the project: from college in Michigan, then post-doctoral work at MIT, and now as a professor at Caltech, Katie Bouman worked on the EHT for 12 years, leading up to this week, and the amazing release of the first black hole image.
What’s equally notable is that Katie Bouman did this without any evidence of anyone trying to derail her from her desired work objectives. No stories of sexism in the workplace. No awful, sad, tales of woe. We should all take note of that, and applaud that American society has advanced where we can say that. Then, we should look at the other TED Talks that feature women in science who are also doing path-breaking work – and its a diverse group.
Take Dr. Jedidah Isler, who’s a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Astrophysics at Vanderbilt University where she studies hyperactive, supermassive black holes. In 2014, Dr. Isler became the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D in Astrophysics from Yale. Right there, just a few inches from Katie Bouman’s talk on black hole imaging on the TED Talks page, was Dr. Isler, talking about “How I fell in love with quazars, blazars, and our incredible universe” – have a look:
On her Twitter page, Dr. Isler shares her thoughts on the EHT image:
Layover #EHTBlackHole thoughts: The #EventHorizonTelescope has *two* primary targets: M87 + Sagittarius A* (which is the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy). M87 accretes more and thus has a significantly stronger signal that Sgr A* despite being MUCH further away.
— Jedidah Isler, PhD (@JedidahIslerPhD) April 10, 2019
And there are other women who’ve added their contributions to the black hole imaging project:
On a personal note… I’ve been working on this for 20 years, since my first paper in 2000 making the first ever prediction of image sizes of nearby black holes. Such a sweet moment that’s been long time in the making… #BlackHoleImage #EHT #EHTBlackHole pic.twitter.com/Az9h2G3FzK
— Feryal Ozel (@feryal_ozel) April 10, 2019
The point is, the media should stop and re-consider its myopic and negative view of American society. There are many women, in many places, and in many colors, making a difference today.
P.S.: If you know of a woman who should be recognized for her work in astrophysics, present her in the comments section, below. Thanks.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media