Saturday, April 13, 2019

Body Language Analysis No. 4379: Katie Bouman, Black Holes, and Emotional Processing - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (PHOTOS)

Katherine Bouman has become the public persona for the first-ever imaging of a Black Hole. She's an American imaging scientist and an incoming assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences at CalTech. Her Ph.D. thesis was titled, "Extreme imaging via physical model inversion: seeing around corners and imaging black holes".

As a member of the Event Horizon Telescope team, Dr. Bouman helped capture this first image of a supermassive black hole - at the center of Messier 87 (Also known as M87 - a truly gargantuan galaxy composed of a trillion stars - centered approximately 53.49 light years from Earth). This image is profoundly symbolic and significant in the history of science - for the photo matched the theory - and thus, was just what astronomers expected.

This photo, from Katie Bouman's Facebook post, is captioned, "Watching in disbelief as the first image I ever made of a black hole was in the process of being reconstructed".

From a nonverbal perspective, what does this photo of Katie Bouman tell us?

Although we can only see a portion of her mouth, it does seem to be configured in a true, sincere simile. Her left mouth corner - and a hint of her right corner - are both directed primarily upward and also laterally.

Another crucial component of a true smile is seen displayed by Dr. Bouman's cheek muscles (zygomaticus major). These contracted and vectored upward as well.

If her hands weren't covering her mouth, we'd only see her upper teeth.  

We can see that Katie Bouman's upper and lower eyelids are partially closed. Moreover, her lower eyelids each have a dynamic, concave-up furrow present. This evanescent finding is required of a true, sincere smile (a Duchenne Smile).

A seldom noted, but crucial part of a sincere smile is a non-contracted forehead. Note that Dr. Bouman's forehead is relaxed.

Dr. Bouman is also blushing. While not a required element of a true smile of joy-happiness, when accompanying the above-described characteristics - blushing is a sincerity amplifier.

As noted previously, Katie Bouman's hands are covering her mouth. This mouth covering is a signal of emotional processing. Said another way, while the logical portion of her brain knew what was happening - the emotional part of her brain was a more than a bit overloaded processing the event and its the ramifications.

Fascinatingly, during moments of dramatically good, bad, or surprising news - the covering of one's mouth - which often occurs rapidly (along with covering of portions of the cheeks and/or nose) - not only tells us the person's emotional characteristics in that moment - but this dynamic also speaks to a significant part of that person's overall character. Those who exhibit this behavior will have significantly higher sincerity and empathy levels.

Yet, Katie Bouman is displaying some emotional dissonance here. For this photo was taken at the moment when the first (of many) images of the M87 Supermassive Black Hole were being compiled. These were eventually amalgamated into the complete picture (shown above) which we've all since become familiar. In this early stage of this scientific moment, Dr. Bouman, naturally, had some anxiety - which is, in part, manifested with her straight, intertwined fingers. In this context, the collective positions of her upper and lower arms, along with her shoulders - which are all drawn inward and covering her chest - is an anxiety amplifying cluster.

SUMMARY: Katie Bouman's smile is a true, sincere smile of joy-happiness. She's also experiencing some (quite expected) anxiety - as well as some emotional processing during the unfolding of this historical event.

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See also:

Body Language Analysis No. 4378: William Barr questioned regarding The Mueller Report

Body Language Analysis No. 4377: Donald Trump, "These aren't people, these are animals"

Body Language Analysis No. 4376: Jacinda Ardern and Donald Trump - a Study in Contrasts

Body Language Analysis No. 4375: Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Security Clearances

Body Language Analysis No. 4374: Nancy Pelosi's Clap-Back to Donald Trump during the 2019 SOTU

Body Language Analysis No. 4373: Matthew Whitaker's Press Conference regarding Robert Mueller's Investigation

Body Language Analysis No. 4332: Richard Nixon, Nikita Khrushchev, and The Kitchen Debate

Body Language Analysis No. 4295: Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos, and Red Flags

Body Language Analysis No. 4254: Tony Robbins, Nanine McCool, and the #MeToo Movement