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Sexist Internet Trolls Started Harassing Katie Bouman, The Scientist Behind The Viral Black Hole Pic, Her Male Colleague Stood Up For Her

It was the smile that was seen all around the world – a look of pure giddiness over a monumental discovery – of something bigger than our ...

It was the smile that was seen all around the world – a look of pure giddiness over a monumental discovery – of something bigger than our solar system or our sun. Twenty-nine-year-old computer scientist Katie Bouman and along with four other teams had captured the first photo of a black hole and her joyful expression said it all. Bauman soon to be an assistant professor at Caltech, first posted the photo on her Facebook, which was screenshotted and sent a massive ripple across the internet. Soon she unwittingly became “face” of the discovery, with outlets even writing pieces on her – but some people were not happy.
In a reverse ‘Hidden Figures’ these trolls began digging around the internet to find the real (man) person responsible for this scientific feat. They landed on Andrew Chael, listed on GitHub as the primary developer for one of the algorithms of the monumental discovery – but he was quick to shut them down.

Computer scientist Katie Bouman has become the face of the first black hole photo in history – and internet trolls are not pleased

Image credits: Katie Bouman
The MIT graduate posted the photo of her delighted face on her Facebook with the caption: “Watching in disbelief as the first image I ever made of a black hole was in the process of being reconstructed.” Which was screengrabbed by fellow Indiana native David Barajas and posted to Twitter. The tweet went viral after it was retweeted by MIT CSAIL and while many congratulated her efforts others sought to bring her down.
Image credits: minimaxir
Image credits: Unknown
Thousands of people started upvoting/giving attention to audacious posts where people tried to diminish her efforts

Instead, they tried to direct everyone’s attention to this guy, who according to them, played a more important role in the project.
Image credits:
Trolls disputed that Bouman should be receiving the level of acclaim she was and said that the real credit should go to Andrew Chael, who was listed as a primary developer on Gitub – a development platform where you can host and review code, manage projects, and build software. Chael quickly came to the defense of his colleague with a series of tweets.

Yet Andrew Chael, the man around an estimated 68,000 lines of code for the photo, stood up for his colleague in a Twitter thread

Image credits: Andrew Chael
He told The Washington Post. he believed the trolling came from a place of pure misogyny, “It was clearly started by people who were upset that a woman had become the face of this story and decided, ‘I’m going to find someone who reflects my narrative instead.'” The trolls on sites like Reddit wrote that Chael alone was responsible for writing 850,000 of the 900,000 lines of code for the project which according to the developer is completely false, “I did not write “850,000 lines of code” — many of those “lines” tracked by github are in model files,” Chael said in his tweets. “There are about 68,000 lines in the current software, and I don’t care how many of those I personally authored.”
Image credits: thisgreyspirit

Image credits: thisgreyspirit
Image credits: thisgreyspirit
Image credits: thisgreyspirit
Image credits: thisgreyspirit
Image credits: thisgreyspirit
Image credits: thisgreyspirit
Image credits: thisgreyspirit
While Bouman deserves credit for her role she wrote on her Facebook that this history-making feat was indisputably a team accomplishment: “No one algorithm or person made this image, it required the amazing talent of a team of scientists from around the globe and years of hard work to develop the instrument, data processing, imaging methods, and analysis techniques that were necessary to pull off this seemingly impossible feat. It has been truly an honor, and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with you all.”
Image credits: Katie Bouman

The misogyny of this controversy was not lost on most people in the comments

Image credits: Triston_Bowman
Image credits: Mehdimoitou
Image credits: johndee15270713
Image credits: Lilpandapaw
Image credits: Lilpandapaw
Recognition for contributions in science is a historic problem that women have had to deal with that is still present to this day. After the blockbuster film Hidden Figures the US State Department was inspired to launch the Hidden No More, a program to increase awareness of the crucial role women play in STEM fields, but there is still so much more that needs to be done. Women in science are cited less in their research, have a more difficult time getting published and are paid 40 percent less in fields like physics and astronomy.


  1. I don't know what this is a photograph of, but we may someday find out it isn't really a black hole. Black holes, dark energy, and dark matter all began as chalkboard exercises because cosmologists couldn't explain the behavior of galaxies and the Universe with the gravity created by observed matter. But when the effect of electromagnetism is included -- a force ten to the 39th power stronger than gravity -- the need for black holes, dark energy, and dark matter is no longer needed to explain the observed Universe. But there are billions of dollars in research funds up for grabs to search for these three unicorns, while Electric Universe scientists are still treated like a red-headed stepchild. We might want to ask why 900,000 lines of custom code are needed to coax a photo out of data when if it was real, wouldn't simple digital camera code work?

  2. I take my hat off, and rise an glass of people whom have the ability to look further, see different angles, think otherwise than what is the main streem stupdity in the science asylum, and if it was Her alone, or in an group, it dont matter, she and the rest deserves respect and aknowledg of what they indeed acomplished.
    What are we seeing, people, black holes are just bullshit, like darm matter, the fact is, people, most of what you read and think is sc ience is nothing but scams, and they have to live by something so they invent more scams, and on top of it, we use tonns of mooney on their scams.

    This video is what its all about.
    This is what an black hole is, an electric universe, yeah, they lie about everything all the time.
    Coming from one of the few I even bother to watch, nice one, respect.
    And kick ass, and rip this scammers to shreads.


    PS, dont missunderstand my rant, the people whom did this have my respect, and I hope this can help you all further, but the rest i wouldnt give an rast ass for.