a year ago
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Who was Cecilia Payne?

Short version: She was a total badass.

When she was only twenty-three years old, Cecilia Payne basically invented the way we examine stars today. And she happened to do it in 1925, when women weren't exactly welcomed with open arms in the field of physics. Why haven't you ever heard of her? Her advisor Henry Norris Russell advised her not to share her results, telling her that her findings were too controversial. But they weren't too controversial for him to publish them under his name four years later. He barely credited her work, and to this day he still sometimes get the credit for her brilliant discovery.

She went on to teach courses at Harvard.

You know, that really prestigious school. None of the courses she taught were recorded in the catalogue until 1945, but that didn't stop her from being a total badass. She went from being an assistant with no title and barely any salary to being the first woman promoted to full professor within the faculty at Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1956. She also became the first woman to head a department. And as if that wasn't enough, seeing Payne succeed inspired people like Joan Feynman to pursue a career in science (despite the popular opinion that women were physically incapable of understanding scientific concepts).

Give this awesome lady a round of applause!