This Week, Capitalism Enabled the Seeing of the Unseeable

This Week, Capitalism Enabled the Seeing of the Unseeable

Scientists this week revealed the first image ever made of a black hole, something that was previously thought to be unseeable. But now, we have a picture of it – thanks to capitalism.

The picture of a black hole – a dying star that has collapsed inward under the pressure of its own weight – 53 million light years from Earth was assembled from data gathered by eight radio telescopes around the world, linked together two years ago to form one giant telescope. And why were radio telescopes invented in the first place? Because a private-sector company needed them to address a commercial problem. The first rudimentary radio antennae used to identify an astronomical radio source was built in the 1930s by Karl Guthe Jansky, an engineer with Bell Telephone Laboratories. Bell, originally the Western Electric Engineering Company and now Nokia Bell Labs, needed Jansky to identify sources of static that that might interfere with radio telephone service.

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