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Old 07-04-2016, 11:35 PM   #1
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July 5th, 2016: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Smart women gets screwed... again.

It's an old story which has had so many reruns.
She attended St Paul's Girls' School. In 1919, she won a scholarship to Newnham College, Cambridge University, where she read botany, physics, and chemistry. Here, she attended a lecture by Arthur Eddington on his 1919 expedition to the island of Principe in the Gulf of Guinea off the west coast of Africa to observe and photograph the stars near a solar eclipse as a test of Einstein's general theory of relativity. This sparked her interest in astronomy. She completed her studies, but was not awarded a degree because of her sex; Cambridge did not grant degrees to women until 1948.
So she came to the states.
Payne realized that her only career option in the U.K. was to become a teacher, so she looked for grants that would enable her to move to the United States. After being introduced to Harlow Shapley, the Director of the Harvard College Observatory, who had just begun a graduate program in astronomy, she left England in 1923. This was made possible by a fellowship to encourage women to study at the observatory. The first student on the fellowship was Adelaide Ames (1922) and the second was Payne.
But coming here didn't solve her main problem... not having a dick.

Shapley persuaded Payne to write a doctoral dissertation, and so in 1925 she became the first person to earn a Ph.D. in astronomy from Radcliffe College (now part of Harvard). Her thesis was "Stellar Atmospheres, A Contribution to the Observational Study of High Temperature in the Reversing Layers of Stars". Astronomers Otto Struve and Velta Zebergs called it "undoubtedly the most brilliant Ph.D. thesis ever written in astronomy".
So now she's cool, right?

When Payne's dissertation was reviewed, astronomer Henry Norris Russell dissuaded her from presenting her conclusion that the composition of the Sun was predominantly hydrogen and thus very different from that of the Earth, as it contradicted the accepted wisdom at the time. However, he changed his mind four years later after having derived the same result by different means and publishing it. Although he acknowledged her work briefly in his paper, Russell was nevertheless often given credit for the discovery even after Payne's work was accepted.
Nice thesis, make me a sandwich. Gotta keep them bitches in their place, you know.
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Old 07-05-2016, 06:42 AM   #2
To shreds, you say?
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Ironically, she won the Henry Norris Russel prize, whatever that is.

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Old 07-23-2016, 03:17 AM   #3
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Bruce; Thanks for bringing this to our light! Damned interesting.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:58 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by footfootfoot View Post
Ironically, she won the Henry Norris Russel prize, whatever that is.

(Oven mitts, most likely)
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Old 07-23-2016, 10:45 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by footfootfoot View Post
Ironically, she won the Henry Norris Russel prize, whatever that is.

(Oven mitts, most likely)
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Old 07-25-2016, 06:57 AM   #6
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The Henry Norris Russel Prize
The Russell Lecturer is normally chosen annually on the basis of a lifetime of eminence in astronomical research. The award includes a suitably engraved certificate, an invitation to deliver a lecture dealing with a broad astronomical field at a meeting designated by the Council, travel expenses to the meeting at which the Russell Lecture is given, and publication of the lecture (or research related to the subject of the prize, though publication of the lecture is strongly preferred) in a Society journal.
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