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In my experience this is common for this type of news about "prodigies" on HN. I remember the same types of reactions a few years ago about an article about a child who made the headlines (it even prompted a response by pg IIRC). Was it Malala? I can't remember.

I think it's just that many people feel threatened or inadequate when they (naturally) compare themselves to these people. It's tempting to put them down so that we feel better about ourselves. I think most of us here on HN like to think that we're clever but when people like Katie Bouman get under the spotlight suddenly most of us realize that we're not such hot shots after all.

It's probably worse when it's a woman/child/minority/... because it gives us the convenient excuse of "this is probably a PR stunt" to dismiss them. It's lazy and it's intellectually dishonest but it's also very human unfortunately.






Indeed, one of the most poisonous things going on in Hollywood/TV right now is writers and actors getting told they didn't get the job because "diversity is hot right now" or some similar rubbish. It reinforces the idea that "the best" people should get the job (not the best people for the job) whilst simultaneously implying that "diverse" people are not "the best".

This leads to people getting rejected thinking it's part of some culture war, when the truth is that most people get rejected, some of those people would have been brilliant in the role they got rejected for and it's exactly the same brutal industry that it was in the 1980s.


>In my experience this is common for this type of news about "prodigies" on HN. I remember the same types of reactions a few years ago about an article about a child who made the headlines (it even prompted a response by pg IIRC). Was it Malala? I can't remember.

For an example of this that involves a male, the media has been hyping the Ocean Cleanup project because it provides them with a great prodigy story, but people on HN have been rightly pushing back against its merits.


I would hope that isn't it. While her trajectory might be uncommon it isn't abnormal. This is the kind of thing you are supposed to do with a PhD from MIT.

But the amount of hours worked are probably insane. I wouldn't be surprised if she was in her lab 12 hours a day for her whole post-doc or something like that.

Many people are intelligent enough, but are not going to work hard enough.


Reading about this reminds me of Dawn Wall. The guy who climbed it was absolutely one of the best climbers in the world, but the reason he was the one to succeed was because he was the one of those best climbers who spent seven years obsessed with a single wall.

She became interested in this problem in high school and stuck with it all the way through. She is a genius, and also the genius who did the work that let this happen.


the closest one that comes to mind is the teenager who was credited with that article summarizing algorithm that I think Yahoo or someone ended up buying. My memory is pretty hazy on it, but in that case it seemed more like a group of researchers actually made it and I'm not 100% certain how he was connected. I remember that one getting a bit of "hey, what a second" kind of comments about it.

I think in this particular case, I have no problem with it. One, she obviously had a big part in it. Maybe it is blow back because they feel a picture of the inside of a black hole isn't a big deal and people are making it into something big? In my opinion, it is. I remember middle school teachers almost scoffing at the idea of a picture of a black hole and yet, 25 years later, here we are. Regardless, she in her twenties has generated something that researchers spend a lifetime trying to find so kudos to her. I'm sure there is a certain gendered element to it in both cases (for and against) and it'd probably be naive to think there wasn't.

Even if this were a smaller aspect of what these researchers were aiming for, I'd love to see a documentary series on what various team members worked on (and in her case, discovered). An image generated by radio waves and she (maybe with others?) was able to construct an image out of that? That's impressive. Probably not, but I'd be curious if this kind of thing could be localized in a way that it could be the "sound to visual model" element of a system so that blind people could make out the world a bit more directly (obviously, there'd need to be a means for them to consume said model. All of this is way above me and my pay grade).


You were probably thinking about the startup Summly, which was founded by a 16 yo [0]. Summly eventually got bought by Marissa Mayer while at the helms at Yahoo! for $30 million [1].

0: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3399377

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5442290




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