Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Bandwidth of Katie Bouman

First things first, yes, many people were involved in everything it took to make the picture of a black hole. However, the reason why it is justified that Katie Bouman is the face of this scientific novelty is because she developed the algorithms needed to distill the image from the data. To give you a clue about the magnitude of the problem she solved; the data was physically shipped on hard drives from multiple observatories. For big science, the Internet often cannot cope.

There are eternal arguments why people are notable in Wikipedia. For a lot of that knowledge a static environment like Wikipedia is not appropriate and this environment is causing a lot of those arguments. To come back to Katie, eh every scientist, their work is collaborative and much of it is condensed into "scientific papers". One of the black hole papers is "First M87 Event Horizon Telescope Results. I. The Shadow of the Supermassive Black Hole". There are many authors to this paper not only "Katherine L. Bouman". When a major event like a first picture of a black hole is added, it is understandable that a paper like this is at first attributed to a single author..

Wikimedia projects have to deal with the ramifications of science for many reasons. The most obvious one is that papers are used for citations. To do this properly, it is science who defines what is written and not selected papers to support an opinion. The public is invited to read these papers and the current Wikipedia narrative is in the single papers, single points of view. This makes some sense because the presentation is static. In Wikidata the papers on any given topic are continuously expanded, the same needs to be true for papers by any given author. Technically a Wikipedia could use Wikidata as the source for publications on a subject or by an author. The author could be Katie Bouman and proper presentations make it obvious that the pictures of a black hole were a group effort with Katie responsible for the algorithms.

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