A photo of this researcher's unbridled joy after creating the first black hole image is going viral.
First image of a black hole seen from Earth. Handout/Getty Images.

April 10, 2019 was an epic day for humanity. We saw the first ever photographic image of a black hole. The photo was taken of an object located in a galaxy 500 quadrillion kilometers from Earth and has a mass 6.5 billion times that of our sun.

The amazing feat was accomplished by a team of 200 scientists over the course of 10 days, using eight linked telescopes positioned around the globe.

While the breathtaking image of the black hole has been seen all over the world, there’s another photo that represents the unbridled joy of discovery that’s going viral alongside it.


via Facebook

Dr. Katie Bouman shared a photo over herself "watching in disbelief" at the creation of the image on Facebook and, in one day, it’s been shared over 38,000 times. Dr. Bouman is a computer scientist who created an algorithm at MIT that would eventually lead to the creation of the image.

Hers was one of several algorithms that helped merge the data collected from the telescopes placed around the world.

“I’ve been working on this project for almost six years now, and for the last year, we’ve basically had to have our lips sealed about this exact imaging process,” she told the Washington Post. “Even my family, I haven’t been able to tell them yet,” she added. “But it’s so amazing to be able to finally tell the world.”

Bouman “was a major part of the imaging subteams,” Vincent Fish, a research scientist, told CNN. “One of the insights Katie brought to our imaging group is that there are natural images,” Fish said. “Just think about the photos you take with your camera phone ― they have certain properties. ... If you know what one pixel is, you have a good guess as to what the pixel is next to it.”

The photo of Dr. Bouman beaming with joy over her team’s amazing achievement is also an empowering image for women everywhere.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics women are underrepresented in the science, engineering, math and technology, or STEM, fields. They comprise just 39% of chemists and material scientists, 28% of environmental scientists and geoscientists, 16% of chemical engineers, and just 12% of civil engineers.

Tamy Emma Pepin, the award-winning television host of #TamyUSA, tweeted out Dr. Bouman’s photo and it received over 280,000 favorites.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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