Badass Scientist of the Week: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (1900–1979) was an English-American astronomer. Her interest in astronomy was kindled in 1919 while studying at Cambridge University on a scholarship, when she attended a lecture by Arthur Eddington, who spoke about his expedition to Africa to see a solar eclipse. Cambridge didn’t grant degrees to women at the time, but Payne still finished her studies and was even elected a member of the Royal Astronomical Society. She received a fellowship to study at the Harvard Observatory, and worked under Harlow Shapley, studying the stellar spectra. In 1925, Payne became the first person, man or woman, ever to receive an Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard, with a thesis Astronomer Otto Struve called “undoubtedly the most brilliant Ph.D. thesis ever written in astronomy.” Payne not only calculated a temperature scale of stars but also theorized about their composition, concluding that they were mostly made of hydrogen—but her colleagues, including Eddington, told her she was wrong, and so Payne carefully made her conclusion less definitive, suggesting that her results were improbable. She was, in fact, completely right, but even today she’s still not credited with the discovery. Payne was hired by Harvard after her fellowship, then began a tour of Europe in 1932, visiting various observatories and meeting her future husband, Russian Astronomer Sergei Gaposchkin. On returning home, Payne juggled three children with her academic career, working at Harvard as a technical assistant—even though she received little pay and had no official status. She kept working doggedly, lecturing and studying highly luminous stars to help understand the structure of the Milky Way, but it wasn’t until 1954 that she officially became Harvard’s first female professor. Later, she became Harvard’s first woman to head a department: the Department of Astronomy. Payne’s persistence in a male-dominated field is inspiring, and she is undoubtedly one of the greatest women astronomers of the twentieth century—and a pivotal figure for women in the field.
Asking this question, automatically identifies my origin and religion to the reader, yes I am an ARAB, and yes I am a Muslim the only surprise I have for you is that I am a girl, and yes we can ask questions while sitting in our tents only if the camel is parked facing the east!!!
In a world where nothing can hold to its true value, where honesty and integrity are luxuries not all of us can afford and we can barely hear our own thoughts through the bombing and bullet showers surrounding us watching what’s left of shredded babies and raped women on news channels for minutes before we switch to The Voice or The Idol shows trying desperately to erase the looping cries that got stuck in our heads of the aforementioned ” debatably” innocent human beings and go back to our depressed and repressed life style of chasing behind some silly dreams that defy the laws of physics by getting smaller and smaller as we’re getting nearer and nearer to them, with everyone to blame for this mess we call the world on daily bases, we’re strangling the good in us, we’re pulling the plug on our dying compassion in our indulging attempt of glorifying OPINIONS.
And now, someone thought it’s a good idea to make a video “an insult to be called a movie” to attack Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, like many others made a lot of such videos mocking Jesus Christ peace be upon him before, exactly like what happens every day when ignorant individuals choose to speak about things they don’t know and give their trivial opinions on what they didn’t learn about , degrading religion , science and the collective human knowledge into mere points of view and giving birth to sick ideologies that speak to the ME in every one of us creating Selfish Armies fighting ” literally ” in the name of Freedom.
The silent majority around the world, the unbiased spectators who believe in whatever they believe in, without preaching about it, those who anyone can assume them to be what he wants them to be, are the true victims and criminals at the same time in this ongoing scenario. Because, when September 11th occurred I was a proud silent majority member, an idealistic teenager who caught herself HAPPY for the sight of two tall buildings crumbling down despite her genuine loyalty to basic human rights principles and the preservation of the sacred human soul, just because it’s happening in The UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I was jumping up and down in JOY when after like two minutes I sat down in shock remembering the people in there, appalled at the ugliness of my celebration of their death. My silence later to this was of shame, but what I was ashamed of succeeded to be justified when THEY attacked Iraq, when I remembered that I’m entitled to hate, because of what happens every day in Palestine “Israel to you”, the recent historical events are known to all of us, though it means different things to each one of us. For me, I was taught that I have the right to HATE, that if we have a court of morals and I was on trial I’d win my case because of the huge heap of undeniable proofs of my righteous cause. After all this time, and all the revolutions that took place, I finally understood what the fight is about. It’s a classic good vs. evil plot, where evil is provoking its dormant seeds in us and good lost its tongue!
Can we stand untainted by the chaos around us, in the face of WRONG that can be simply defined as what’s hurtful, racist and degrading?! Can we punish ourselves for taking pride in killing the other? Can we protect our humane morals from being eradicated even when we’re sitting at home all by ourselves? Can us believers of every kind “atheists are believers of no religion ;) ” Speak up in defense of what’s left of Good, that we all know what it is, without any political, economic ,social or even religious definition of it ?! Can we forgive and forget?! And FORCE others to do as well, not by fighting them, but by leaving no place for fighting! Can we restore the power from those who used it to destroy and reinvest it in building and bridging?! Are these naïve questions of no practical importance?
The greatest danger is to stop asking such questions, when the horrifying images of dead people become strictly attached to their nationalities to induce their effect on us, when we savor the other’s pain and brag our limited borders of tolerance and understanding and when we abandon the world for those who deplete it! You know we’re in a huge trouble when a normal, FRIENDS show lover, bookworm, ambitious poet, experimental play writer, goofy humored, YOUNG GIRL with her whole life in front of her yet to be lived, and who responds to tragic political events just like she responds to a sad episode of her favorite show by crying, ask you sincerely: SHOULD I BECOME A TERRORIST?!!!
I once punched a man for saying, “women who flaunt it, then get raped, shouldn’t put it out there.” I punched him as hard as I can; and I can punch hard. Other than offend my sensibilities towards women, he did nothing to provoke extremely violent, aggressive action. There was no warning, there was no sign, he didn’t even see it coming.
While he was on the floor, spitting obscenities and threats that I’ll be done for assault and battery, he told me I was a maniac.
I bent down and I said to him, “If you don’t want your ugly face punched, you shouldn’t put it out in public like that - wear a paper bag or something, cause you’re ASKING FOR IT.”
I’m not sorry, and I’d do it again.
If epiphanies are of truth
and dreams are for real
then futile awaiting a sunrise
such facts can’t reveal
If roots fight heaven’s calling
to escape the eminent cold
then souls can’t be nourished
where flesh grows so old
if blood is red for a reason
other than the fiery scorn
then swift are all the tears
and sorrows, to which they’re born
if belief can be proven
and hearts by sight inspected
then love can be spoken
with prayers to earth deflected
if light stalls to fancy
utter blindness to illuminate
then lost are all beginnings
to imperious silent fate
and if i’m to live the life
behind destiny’s devious smile
then soil seeking soil
doths soil of soil beguile
Upon this glistening face it draws
Lies the most sacred, divine of laws
What’s else’s is what defines
Rather the essence of self that shows
For the fragile water to find its home
On heartless floors of rivers it flows
To bear of stones its rightful own
Ruining their trenchant soundless claws
While on soft, subdued sand it lies
Debased of the life and strength it seeks
For discordant seasons passing by
To each a derision that he wreaks
A heart’s debacle is never benign
It Forces an obstinate mind to speak
For the hollow ribs of ancient shrines
Utter the loudest penetrating shriek
Only to silence these sounds confide
And light to darkness beholds witness
Promises to assert what could be denied
As wellness born to defeated illness
Humility inherited of a wounded pride
Tiresome joy gives rise to dullness
And the sweet warm desires we hide
Mark reality’s impairing chillness
On all that’s lifeless can the souls
Their own images contemplate
For the only being who never stalls
TIME ,neither ponders nor awaits!
Then if all that I’m not is who I am
And what I am, is who you’re not
Why waste time wearing lives
That else’s eyes will reflect?