How the image of M87 can help us to tackle our commercial problems.

Of all the science disciplines, physics has always intrigued me the most but, due to a lack of mathematical knowledge, has always been one that I’ve enjoyed for the concepts, not the proofs.

Of all the scientific disciplines, physics sits at the pointy end of discovery. Physics is elegant and simplistic, until you dive into the detail, where it gets unbelievably complicated yet prove-able. Ultimately, it’s physics that offers the best explanations into how both the universe and the quantum worlds work, and that’s why it’s so important.

On April 10 a group of 200 international scientists announced to the world that they had managed to produce the first ever image of a black hole. The announcement was one of the greatest scientific feats in not only in physics, but in engineering, data science, astronomy, international co-operation, and, let’s be real, human history.

Not only was what they did unbelievable, but so too was how they did it. First, in order to capture the data required for this image, the team had to assemble a telescope the size of the earth. They did this by creating a co-ordinated planet-spanning array of eight remote, high-altitude radio telescopes dotted around earth, also known as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).

They then pointed the EHT at a section of sky the fraction of the width of a human hair (as seen from earth) for over a week to record their observations.

To render the image, the scientists first had to physically fly the petabytes (kilograms) of data they collected on specially built solid-state hard drives to a central location, where they had to then create and compare thousands of possible image combinations to known theoretical black hole models. The result was a composite image of a celestial object located 54 million light years away.

With all this in mind, I was working through a capital planning exercise with a business founder when I came to a striking realisation. We were trying to solve this ‘complicated’ capital problem late in the afternoon and weren’t having much luck finding a reasonable solution. I let my mind wonder and the adage “If there’s a way to image a black hole then there’s a way to solve this problem” came to mind. As naff as it might sound, this simple statement helped re-frame our point of view on the problem, and we quickly got a solution that we were all happy with.

Setting aside the fact that the achievement of these 200 scientists has taken us even further towards confirming our standing theories of special relativity, and that their work is a monumental moment for human history, to me this achievement demonstrates that no challenge any of us may face in our personal or professional lives will ever be too big to solve. As such, the adage “If there’s a way to image a black hole then there’s a way to solve this problem” has since become a bit of a go to ‘ism’ for how I frame things in my mind. I now know that because it’s possible to image a black hole, it’s entirely possible to solve problems that seem impossible. We just need to bring them into a solvable perspective.

About the author — Aidan Kenealy

My mission is to help those with high growth businesses realise their vision for success. I draw from the unique lessons learned growing EMGN to help founders and CEOs get the best out of what their businesses can be.

If you would like to discuss how I can help you and your business — please reach out via LinkedIn or email

Originally published at on May 28, 2019.

Professional startup advisor for founders of high growth startups. More details @

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