"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."
— via violetmaps
Jeremy Knowles, discussing the complete lack of recognition Cecilia Payne gets, even today, for her revolutionary discovery. (via moonsafaris)
“You have probably never heard of British-born Cecilia H. Payne (later Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin), who in 1923 came to the United States to study stellar spectra at the Harvard College Observatory. In a remarkably short time, Payne managed to quantify and classify the stellar spectra in the plate collection at the Observatory, arriving at the startling conclusion that stars are “amazingly uniform” in their composition, and that hydrogen is millions of times more abundant than any other element in the universe. Her doctoral dissertation, Stellar Atmospheres (1925), demonstrated her theory concerning the chemical composition of stars and earned her the first doctoral degree ever offered to either man or woman by Harvard’s astronomy department. A few years later, Otto Struve, an eminent astronomer, called it ‘the most brilliant Ph.D. thesis ever written’” - Dara Horn