Since her death in 1979, the woman who discovered what the universe is made of has not so much as received a memorial plaque. Her newspaper obituaries do not mention her greatest discovery. […] 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.
Jeremy Knowles, discussing the complete lack of recognition Cecilia Payne gets, even today, for her revolutionary discovery. (via alliterate)
OH WAIT LEMME TELL YOU ABOUT CECILIA PAYNE.
Cecilia Payne’s mother refused to spend money on her college education, so she won a scholarship to Cambridge.
Cecilia Payne completed her studies, but Cambridge wouldn’t give her a degree because she was a woman, so she said fuck that and moved to the United States to work at Harvard.
Cecilia Payne was the first person ever to earn a Ph.D. in astronomy from Radcliffe College, with what Otto Strauve called “the most brilliant Ph.D. thesis ever written in astronomy.”
Not only did Cecilia Payne discover what the universe is made of, she also discovered what the sun is made of (Henry Norris Russell, a fellow astronomer, is usually given credit for discovering that the sun’s composition is different from the Earth’s, but he came to his conclusions four years later than Payne—after telling her not to publish).
Cecilia Payne is the reason we know basically anything about variable stars (stars whose brightness as seen from earth fluctuates). Literally every other study on variable stars is based on her work.
Cecilia Payne was the first woman to be promoted to full professor from within Harvard, and is often credited with breaking the glass ceiling for women in the Harvard science department and in astronomy, as well as inspiring entire generations of women to take up science.
Cecilia Payne is awesome and everyone should know her.
You’re not unreliable - your health is.
previously on planet of the apes: james franco made a series of selfish and scientifically irresponsible decisions that the audience forgave him for because there was a Sad Dying Father and a baby chimpanzee involved, culminating in a colony of super-intelligent apes taking over the redwood national forest and, oh, right, the creation and release of an incredibly deadly virus capable of wiping out human life as we know it. (note: presumably james franco’s character in said movie had a name that was not james franco, perhaps “bill,” or possibly “chad,” but like all situations involving james franco that name has been lost to the ages, because james franco is always james franco. when cut james franco bleeds james franco. if you were to peel james franco like an onion, beneath every layer of james franco you would find yet another identical layer of james franco, coated in selfies and smelling faintly of marijuana and pretension. james franco is james franco is james franco. there is no escape. there is no relief. james franco is a bottomless pit of james franco.)
currently, on planet of the apes: james franco is dead and so is p much everybody else.