Talk:Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

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Franklin Institute to Rittenhouse Astronomical Society[edit]

I changed the "Rittenhouse Medal from the Franklin Institute" to the "Rittenhouse Medal from the Rittenhouse Astronomical Society" because, while the RAS meets at the Franklin Institute's building, it appears to be a separate organization that originally met in New Jersey. --Monado (talk) 22:52, 10 October 2012 (UTC)


"Appraisal of her Career" ??[edit]

Someone who understands astrophyisics should write about what CP-G's ideas signified -- i.e. appraise her actual career, her research and theorizing. As it stands now, this section is just about how C P-G was among the first women to get herself (belatedly) established and recognized in her chosen field. It's a generic appreciation of anyone who helped integrate any profession. It's as if what she actually DID within astronomy had no particular significance — as if her only accomplishment worth "appraising" was to help overcome male prejudice in academia and inspire other women to study astronomy. Ironically, this has the effect of making the entire article belittling, demeaning, and sexist, surely not what its authors intended. Would any man who did what she did be appraised as anything less than a towering figure? I'd be interested in seeing an appraisal that puts her ideas in historical context. Was she any less significant in astrophysics than Stephen Hawking or George Gamow, if her ideas laid the foundations for their ideas, and were no less revolutionary? She doesn't quite rank with Copernicus, Newton or Einstein, but why not Kepler, whose discoveries of the shape of planetary orbits apparently served the same purpose as Payne's discovery of the substance of the entire universe, laying the groundwork for a new view of how everything works? Everyone knows about Kepler's ellipse; who knows about Payne's hydrogen>helium insight?

The problem is not just in this section; three-quarters of the article is about academic gender politics. That aspect of her life mattered a lot, and it is appropriate to tell that story in detail. But it's wildly inappropriate to skim over a discovery that tells us why stars shine and how the universe evolved. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.119.39.180 (talk) 12:06, 25 July 2013 (UTC)Chelydra (talk) 12:18, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

Reference #7[edit]

In the section on "Personal life", we read that she became an agnostic. Next to the word "agnostic" is a note, note #7. In that note (visible when putting the cursor over it, or at the bottom of the page), there are two sentences joined by an ellipsis (...). I don't understand the point of providing, and of joining, those two sentences. I also don't understand what the second sentence is referring to (What marks? What prayerless group? When? Where?). CorinneSD (talk) 15:27, 14 July 2014 (UTC)

The "group" refers to an incident that Payne-Gaposchkin wrote about in her autobiography. While still a young girl in school she divided her exams in two groups and prayed for success in only one of them in order to test the effectiveness of prayer (not of God). She thinks she may have arranged the groups to show that prayer wouldn't work. At the end of the paragraph she says, "The only legitimate request to God is for courage. This conviction has persisted through the years." See Payne-Gaposchkin, Cecilia (1996). Katherine Haramundanis, ed. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin: An Autobiography and Other Recollections. Cambridge University Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-521-48390-2. . It seems to be Keith Laidler's conclusion in his book that Payne-Gaposchkin became a life-long agnostic at that point. The quote does not support this. StarryGrandma (talk) 16:35, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for your reply. That's very interesting. While the second sentence in the note is appropriate at that point in the article, perhaps more should be included in the quote in order to make it clear what it's about. The first sentence in the note seems unrelated to that part of the article. @Vsmith: What do you think? CorinneSD (talk) 19:21, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
Moved the agnostic bit up to follow the "experiment" it was presumably referencing and chopped the irrelevant "composition of the sun" bit as irrelevant. Not sure I understand what a "devout agnostic" means 'thogh :) Vsmith (talk) 20:21, 14 July 2014 (UTC)