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What Stars Are Made Of

The Life of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
Length: 8 hrs and 47 mins

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Publisher's Summary

It was not easy being a woman of ambition in early 20th-century England, much less one who wished to be a scientist. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin overcame prodigious obstacles to become a woman of many firsts: the first to receive a PhD in astronomy from Radcliffe College, the first promoted to full professor at Harvard, the first to head a department there. And, in what has been called "the most brilliant PhD thesis ever written in astronomy", she was the first to describe what stars are made of.

Payne-Gaposchkin lived in a society that did not know what to make of a determined schoolgirl who wanted to know everything. She was derided in college and refused a degree. As a graduate student, she faced formidable skepticism. Revolutionary ideas rarely enjoy instantaneous acceptance, but the learned men of the astronomical community found hers especially hard to take seriously. Though welcomed at the Harvard College Observatory, she worked for years without recognition or status. Still, she accomplished what every scientist yearns for: discovery. She revealed the atomic composition of stars - only to be told that her conclusions were wrong by the very man who would later show her to be correct.

©2020 Donovan Moore (P)2020 Tantor

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  • Elliott Wolfe, M.D.
  • 19-09-2020

Scientist's Success

Dr. Gaposchkin was one of America's first woman astronomers and one of the first women promoted to a full professorship at Harvard College. This biography provides her life's story with her scientific achievements explained clearly and melded with how she integrated science and personal lives. A splendid book for showing both women and men how to achieve success by understanding and then overcoming barriers; a terrific gift for any young scientist.

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