Six years ago, a young graduate student, Catherine Bowman, along with nearly thirty experts in the field of information technology has undertaken an unprecedented task. It was necessary to develop algorithms to interpret the data of project Event Horizon Telescope, studying the distant cosmos. The other day he took a triumphant presentation of the results of their work – the public showed the first in the history of the black hole. And now Bowman has to say about how they came to this.
Today 29-year-old Catherine is a doctor of Sciences and a prominent expert in the field of computer vision technology. Thanks to the work on the project Event Horizon Telescope, she received knowledge in astrophysics, but in the beginning barely knew what a black hole. But it was very interested in the problem: how can I see what was, and remains invisible to humans? How to create tools and algorithms to look into the unknown?
Hard drives 5 TB — so much needed to get the image of a black hole
Take disparate radio telescopes radio waves, of which only a small part comes from the studied object and conveys some information about it. Think of it as one pixel in the picture, and you don’t know its exact coordinates. If you just piece together the whole mass of pixels you will get an almost infinite number of variations of the image. And we need to develop an algorithm that would screen out obviously incorrect choices to a step by step to reduce the list to an acceptable minimum.
But that is not the main difficulty in the project, says Bowman, more than anything their team was afraid to make the algorithm an element of bias. Needed a system with a completely neutral assessment of the information below even if you want the researchers couldn’t steer her astray. To this end, developers were divided into 4 groups, forbidding contact between them — and they didn’t know how to look like a black hole, even approximately.
Astronomers deliberately concealed from them the theoretical calculations, providing only data from the radio telescopes. And only with models and build on them, team compared the results and realized that he had come to success. All four teams received a picture of a ring with a dark “hole” in the middle – then science and found clear proof of the existence of a black hole.
The first in the history of the black directory — The Washington Post