Vera Rubin

Vera Rubin (1928-Dec 25, 2016) was a groundbreaking astrophysicist who discovered evidence of dark matter.  In the 1970s, Rubin was studying the movement of distant spiral galaxies, when she discovered that the stars at the outside of these galaxies were moving as fast as the ones towards the center, which didn't fit existing gravitational theory. Her theory and explanation was a material she called "dark matter" (which had been loosely proposed in the 1930s and never mathematically observed until then). Starting her studies at Vassar, Rubin had proudly applied to historically all-male PhD programs like Princeton and was refused because of her gender, she went on to study at co-ed graduate programs at Cornell and Georgetown. She was later the first woman allowed to use the facilities at Caltech's famed Palomar Observatory and became a lifelong advocate of women in the sciences. Rubin frequently wrote about the "permission" and questions of "access" with technology, perhaps in her most quoted note where she wrote: "I live and work with three basic assumptions: 1) There is no problem in science that can be solved by a man that cannot be solved by a woman. 2) Worldwide, half of all brains are in women. 3) We all need permission to do science, but, for reasons that are deeply ingrained in history, this permission is more often given to men than to women." Thanks Vera for giving the world a little more permission