It was once thought that we would never be able to see what a black hole actually looked like. But researcher Katherine Bouman created an algorithm that allowed the iconic photo to be captured. She quickly became a viral sensation with thousands praising her diligent work, but it wasn’t long before the internet trolls came out.
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The trolls tried to diminish Bouman’s hard work by claiming Andrew Chael, a white male, was the mastermind behind the lines of code that helped the groundbreaking photo become a reality. What they didn’t count on was Chael publically supporting 29-year-old Bouman.
Originally, the trolls made false claims that Chael solely created “850,000 of the 900,000 lines of code that were written in the historic black-hole image algorithm!”
In a Twitter thread, Chael set the record straight by stating: “I did not write “850,000 lines of code” — many of those “lines” tracked by github are in model files,” Chael explained. “There are about 68,000 lines in the current software, and I don’t care how many of those I personally authored.”
After seeing that the trolls were gaining traction, Chael, who is an openly gay man, knew he had to set the record straight. “Once I realized that many online commentators were using my name and image to advance a sexist agenda to claim that Katie’s leading role in our global team was invented, I felt I should say something to make it clear I rejected that view,” he told CNN.
He added: “So while I appreciate the congratulations on a result that I worked hard on for years, if you are congratulating me because you have a sexist vendetta against Katie, please go away and reconsider your priorities in life,”
Despite her character being attacked, Bouman took to Facebook Wednesday to explain “no one algorithm or person made this image.” Instead, 200 other researchers and eight high-powered telescopes made this astonishing feat possible, Fox News reported.
The troll onslaught came after Bouman posted an image of her surprise to becoming a viral sensation.
If you have about 10 minutes, check out Bouman explaining how to take a picture of a black hole.