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[personal profile] susanreads
She is an astronomer, November:
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin


Born in Great Britain, Payne carried out her scientific work at Harvard University in the USA. Her Doctoral thesis (the first astronomy thesis ever carried out by a woman in Harvard) demonstrated that hydrogen is the main component of stars, something taken for granted nowadays but which represented a real change of paradigm in 1925. In spite of working at Harvard for almost two decades, she was not considered as an official astronomer until 1938. In 1956 she became the first female professor at Harvard.

A scholarship for women in science allowed her to move to Harvard Observatory in 1923.

The verification of Einstein’s theory of relativity with the solar eclipse in 1919 stimulated Payne’s interest in astronomy.

On the calendar there's also an old portrait photograph and a painting of Cecilia lecturing.

The fannishcodex tumblr quotes Jeremy Knowles: Every high school student knows that Isaac Newton discovered gravity, that Charles Darwin discovered evolution, and that Albert Einstein discovered the relativity of time. But when it comes to the composition of our universe, the textbooks simply say that the most abundant atom in the universe is hydrogen. And no one ever wonders how we know.

UCLA's site CWP (Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics) quotes from a book: Payne-Gaposchkin helped forge a path for other women scientists because of her struggle against sex discrimination at Harvard College Observatory and by her example.

Her Wikipedia article is better than most of the earlier astronomers', with more about her life, career and research.

Date: 2011-11-28 12:03 am (UTC)
gwendraith: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gwendraith
Interesting post. Thank you for posting it. She is certainly an unsung hero of science.

Date: 2011-11-29 11:02 am (UTC)
gwendraith: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gwendraith
Other things in life get in the way sometimes, unfortunately.
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