I know you all know who Cecilia Payne was! Not! I’d never heard of her ‘till today, did you know that in 1925 she proposed that stars were comprised primarily of Helium and Hydrogen? “So what?” You say.... OK let’s rewind.
She got a scholarship to Cambridge in 1919 when her single mother couldn’t afford her tuition. She completed a degree but wasn’t awarded that degree because she was a woman (they only started dishing out degrees to ladies in 1948!). If that was my story, I may have thrown in the towel in a toddler like rage.
Cecilia was then offered a fellowship at Harvard and moved continents to further her studies. Her PhD thesis in 1925 (enter Helium & Hydrogen) disproved the current theories of the day and she was dissuaded from publishing her theory because it contradicted her male predecessors.
At Harvard she earned her promotion to professor in her field in 1956, by which time she had already published 3 books.
Years later her theory was confirmed and affirmed by fellow astronomers, and her PhD has been called “the most brilliant Ph.D. thesis ever written in astronomy.”
It was a woman who discovered what our universe is made of!
We admire Cecilia for her brilliance, for being light years ahead of her time, for not giving up when her work was not recognised. Her passionate perseverance brought acknowledgement and success in the end.
We toast another unsung hero for her strength, vision and guts! Cheers dears!
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