On Wednesday, after 10 years of planning and scientific investments totaling over $50 million, researchers released the first-ever image of a black hole. The image is a feat of modern science — experts say it's the equivalent of taking a photo of an orange on the moon with a smartphone — and international collaboration. Over 200 scientists across the globe contributed to the project.
One of those scientists is Katie Bouman, a 29-year-old computer scientist who began working on the project when she was a graduate student at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT.
Bouman earned her bachelor's in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Soon, she'll begin working as an assistant professor in the Computing and Mathematical Sciences Department at the California Institute of Technology.
But when she became involved in the project almost six years ago, she had no experience studying black holes.
"I go after problems that excite me. When I started this project, I didn't know anything about black holes and honestly, it was a risky project," Bouman tells CNBC Make It. "But my heart was in this project. I love this project, and I think that that's what makes it a success. When you get really smart people together, who are super motivated by the problem that they're working on, I think people will figure out the answers."