Friday, February 22, 2013

Cecilia Payne: fantastic astronomer that you've never heard about before?

Hmm, I've had a bad day at work. I am totally fed up with the alpha males who will exclude me from the conversation and/or condescendingly talk down to me because I don't play their silly games of peeing all over the ground, to mark territory.

Maybe I should, maybe it's actually fun. Who knows?...

Anyways a bit of history might help. You can read about Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin in the Wikipedia and in many other sites. This woman discovered that stars are made of hydrogen, wrote so in her phd thesis only to be told by astronomer Henry Norris Russell  that she was wrong. 

He "dissuaded her from concluding that the composition of the Sun is different from that of the Earth, which contradicted the accepted wisdom at the time. However, he changed his mind four years later after deriving the same result by different means. After Payne was proven correct, Russell was often given the credit, although he himself acknowledged her work in his paper." 

or so it  says in Wikipedia and several other places. No one has ever heard of her, there are no plaques for her, no celebrations, she was underpaid her whole life... Amazing, isn't it?

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