Books et al.Science Lives

Sexism and the stars

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Science  20 Mar 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6484, pp. 1311
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba9179

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Summary

In the early 20th century, astronomers believed in a uniformity principle that held that all objects in the universe were made of the same elements, in approximately the same amounts. In 1925, however, Cecilia Payne, a Ph.D. student at Harvard, discovered that stars are composed of a million times more hydrogen than was previously assumed. But because she was young and female, the scientific community rejected her findings. It would take several decades before Payne-Gaposchkin received the recognition she was due. In What Stars Are Made Of, using compact and skillful prose, Donovan Moore charts Payne-Gaposchkin's scientific life from grade school standout to world-class astronomer.

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