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Why open-source software is so powerful for physics

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Why open-source software is so powerful for physics

Postby Hooray » Tue Sep 14, 2021 5:38 pm ... ics-world/

Open-source software has been critical to the famous image of a black hole – but also for many other areas of physics besides
Cover of Physics World September 2021 issue
Picture of success: The importance of open-source software to physics.

Twenty-three thousand. That’s roughly how many people helped create the first ever image of a black hole, taken by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) in 2019.

Not all are formal members of the EHT collaboration – the vast majority are those who write, maintain and support the free and open-source software tools that the researchers used in their work.

But without the imaging software all those people had written, it would never have been possible to extract the famous image from the EHT data.

It was perhaps the most high-profile example of how free and open-source software is becoming a powerful tool in academic research, helping scientists to collaborate better and work smarter.

In the September 2021 issue of Physics World, which is now out in print and digital formats, Achintya Rao investigates how such software is being used in physics research, and its role in the wider open-science movement.
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