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.
Peggielene Bartels, A.K.A. King Peggy, is currently the King of Otuam, Ghana. She was chosen to be one of only three female kings in Ghana, and when she discovered that male chauvinists wanted her to only be a figurehead, she said: “They were treating me like I am a second-class citizen because I am a woman. I said, ‘Hell no, you’re not going to do this to a woman!’” When she encountered corruption and the threat of embezzlement to the royal funds, she declared “I’m going to squeeze their balls so hard their eyes pop!”
King Peggy has maintained her work in Ghana’s embassy in Washington, D.C. while making education affordable in Otuam, installing borehead wells to produce clean drinking water, enforcing incarceration laws to deal with domestic violence, replenishing the royal coffers by taxing Otuam’s fishing industry to improve life in the village, and appointing three women to her council.
“Nobody should tell you, ‘You’re a woman, you can’t do it,’” she insists. “You can do it. Be ready to accept it when the calling comes.”
Quoted from the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Ms. Magazine.
What a beautiful badass woman.
King Peggy has been on my blog before but this is my goddamn blog and I will have King Peggy on here twice if I want.
MORE FEMALE KINGS.
Always reblog King Peggy, who is on my dash far less than she should be. Did you know she has written a book about her life? It is great, and you should all get right on that if you haven’t already.
Finishing a never-ending game library
I’m a grad-student who works in the oncology department and these last few weeks, I’ve been involved a lot in breast cancer cases. One woman said that she wasn’t sure whether to undergo mastectomy because her boyfriend had told that it would make her ‘less of a woman’…