Cecilia Payne

“Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are”

              from a poem by Jane Taylor

This remarkable WAVE was born in England in 1900 and always knew she wanted to be a scientist. She entered Cambridge University, and chanced to hear a lecture by an astronomer named Arthur Eddington who spoke on Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. She was exhilarated at the transformation of her view of the universe and decided to study astrophysics. Because of limited opportunities for her at Cambridge, she went to the United States to study at Harvard at age 23.

Her studies led her to study the spectrum of light that is emitted by stars as the light passes through prisms that are attached to telescopes. Each element gives off a particular pattern of different wavelengths, almost like a fingerprint. Payne was able to show that variation in patterns of stars was due largely to the temperature, and not to variations in composition. Her work showed that most stars, like our sun, are composed largely of hydrogen and helium, the lighter elements. Prior to this, most scientists assumed that stars were made of heavier elements. She presented her findings in her thesis in 1925. Her work resulted in the first doctoral degree awarded by Harvard Observatory. It was considered a landmark paper, but because of her gender, she could only carry the title of “technical assistant.” It wasn’t until 1956 that she was made a full professor and chair of the astronomy department at Harvard.

I became aware of Cecelia Payne while attending a recent online public lecture given by Dr. Allison Strom, an assistant professor of Astrology at Northwestern University. She is a delightful and enthusiastic astronomer that studies the evolution of galaxies and the lifespan of stars. She heads a team of gifted scientists that interpret some of the data transmitted from the James Webb Telescope to try to understand how galaxies form, how stars are born and how they ultimately expire. Strom and her team acknowledge that many of the techniques they use were developed by Cecelia Payne, and she is their inspiration.

The achievements of ambitious and brilliant women are often underrated, but they persist because they are fueled by a passion for knowledge. Payne sought empowerment through an institution that would publish her research, and tolerated the lack of professor status. Because she was offered this opportunity and embraced it, we all benefit. As Cecelia Payne said,

“Your reward will be the widening of the horizon as you climb.

 And if you achieve that reward you will ask no other.”


W.A.V.E. stands for Women of AmbitionVirtue, and Empowerment. The more I find out about the incredible contributions women have made to our knowledge base and social advancement, the more amazed I am at how they persevered in their focus to achieve their vision. And there are so many examples!

Ambition. It’s true that women work twice as hard to be considered half as good. It’s a challenge to keep up with the demands of a career and home. WAVEs have shown that it can be done. They tackle hurdles with determination and grace.

Virtue. What an old-fashioned word! Women of virtue used to be held in high esteem. According to vocabulary.com, Virtue is the “quality of being morally good.” Although it may have had different connotations with regards to social standards at a given time, it never really goes out of style. It means doing the right thing, especially when no one is watching. WAVEs follow their moral compass even when another route might be easier. They do not compromise their ethics.

Empowerment. Women have worked hard for centuries to earn the right to vote, get equal education, have a satisfying career, be treated fairly, and spend quality time with family and friends. These rights are held dear, since many women worldwide are deprived of them. It has been a combined effort of men AND women to accomplish these goals, and it remains a continuous effort to ensure that they are not eroded. WAVEs use these opportunities to attain their vision, confirming that empowering women alongside men is an advantage to our society overall.

When you see the W.A.V.E. logo, it means the blog or book review is about women with the above qualities and what we can learn from their stories. Some authors use historical fiction to portray the situations that a real person would face at that time; others have researched their subjects and try to be as historically accurate as possible. All the stories are filled with inspiration and passion. I hope you enjoy and appreciate these incredible characters!

Healthy Habits

The Five Healthy Habits

Health, according to Oxford languages, is the state of being free from illness or injury.  The word “health” conveys an image of happy people thriving in a joyful coexistence. Good health allows us to contribute to society, fulfill our personal needs, and enjoy our time on earth with family and friends.

Every person can invest in maintaining their individual health. Staying healthy results in livelongfeelgood. We need to understand our human needs to participate and succeed.

Research has shown that there are five healthy habits that contribute to livelongfeelgood. I hope you choose to come along!

1. Movement. Staying mobile and flexible is an important part of a happy healthy life. As a cardiologist, I see a big difference in people who regularly exercise vs those that don’t, and the divergence begins as early as people in their twenties. Those who adopt an exercise strategy early on stay more active and have fewer injuries as they age.

2. Nutrition. Our bodies are living vessels that house our consciousness and spirit. They need basic components to thrive, such as protein and calcium which are building blocks for muscles and bone. Carbohydrates provide energy, but unless you have the metabolism of an athlete it’s easy to overindulge because carbs are a big component of most snacks, breakfast cereals, and side dishes. Limiting carbs and sugar is the first step to a healthy diet.

3. Engagement. We are a social species. A large part of our brain is devoted to facial recognition and emotional communication. Engaging with others in positive situations is crucial to our survival and overall happiness. We have accomplished our greatest feats when we cooperate to achieve common goals. In the last century, people working together through research and social programs have been able to DOUBLE the average lifespan for those who have access to the appropriate care. There have been quite a few notable inventions in the recent past, but that feat may be the most amazing accomplishment of all. Staying engaged can mean volunteering, babysitting, and even smiling at the grocery store clerk. Complement others and you will feel better!

4. Learning. Staying healthy means keeping an open mind to new ideas. Research shows that those who keep learning are less susceptible to dementia. Have a goal to learn something new every day.  Keep up on news, voice an opinion, but be able to quote a reliable source to back your views.

5. Gratitude. Have you ever heard the comment that someone is “growing old gracefully”? This is a complement to an individual as they deal with increasing challenges that come with age. This usually means that the person is living their life in a State of Gratitude. They are thankful for the good things in life that they enjoy and are happy. They are likeable and easy to be around because they let go of judgement and find peace in their situation.

These five healthy approaches can become habits of a long and prosperous life. If you want to participate in more of livelongfeelgood please return to my website!

A moral code

I recently had the opportunity to see an interview with Barrack Obama and Trevor Noah. One of the things they discussed was the decline of democratic governments around the world, which has happened over the last several years. In USA we have seen increased divisiveness and mistrust of our elected officials, with threats to our electoral process which threatens our democracy, ie. the ability to govern ourselves. There’s also a coincident trend in USA toward atheism. The basis of religion is a moral code that accounts for tolerance and respect of others, and also ensures that we are rewarded in the afterlife. The lack of consequence for immoral behavior of people in power, as well as the history of violence and oppression under the flag of religion, can account for the trend toward atheism. As religion is deconstructed, so is the argument for “doing the right thing” for your fellow sapiens. Is the decline of organized religion a good thing? Perhaps there’s another non-religious reason to act compassionately. Our continued survival requires interdependency among our species. We can’t survive without the help of our fellow human beings. We’ve evolved from individuals to tribes of hunter gatherers, to agricultural settlements with division of labor, to our current status of a relatively comfortable life with the help of teachers, doctors, manufacturers, laborers, and distribution experts. As we continue to evolve, let’s rely on logical thinking which justifies the decisions we make as we go forward to ensure our best outcome. 


What do we believe? For the most part, we believe what we are told and what we experience. We used to believe the world is flat. We used to believe the earth is the center of the universe. This shows that just because you believe something, it doesn’t make it true. Each of us has our own unique beliefs. We have the ability to alter our beliefs based on new knowledge. New knowledge is attained from reliable sources. Yes, they are out there. We have to know where to find them. They are based on logic. That’s the power of logic, it’s available to everyone and seeks to find the truth. 


Did you ever wonder what it would be like to experience the world as a dog? What they hear as we speak, the scents they smell and what that means to them? 

UMWELT is the “world as experienced by a particular organism” according to Google dictionary. In the recent past, it was generally accepted that other organisms had no emotions and our egocentric view stated we had dominion over all other creatures. As science progresses and we develop ways to study animal perception, it’s intriguing to appreciate how animals perceive and navigate their environment. They have evolved in specific niches which allow them to process information in a way we could never do. A great example is that of bats, who use echolocation to navigate and feed. They find insects, avoid obstacles, and decipher which signals are theirs when other bats are flying. Umwelt opens the door to our understanding of the full extent of the evolutionary process, its underlying drive and complex continuous forces. It also brings an awareness for light, noise and air alterations that we often bring as we enter an environment and the potential deleterious effects of these changes to other species. 

Our true potential, as we continue to evolve as people, recognizes our interdependency with other species. We are part of a living, integrated process. 

Evolution (definition)

Evolution may be the most difficult word to define. It’s a continuous process of change and exploration. It’s what makes us who we are, and got us where we are. It grounds us to this earth, yet it allows us to expand into space. Evolution gave us the curiosity to question and the brain power to solve problems. EVERYTHING evolves. The planet, it’s species, the universe, our concepts of god, religion, and logic. Evolution opens up the story of the past and invites us into the future. We as individuals evolve as well. We are not the same persons as yesterday. New knowledge is available everyday. Invite it, savor it, and enjoy!


I’ve had several discussions with religious scholars who are on a journey of enlightenment, who seek true peace through knowing god. They often refer to the “sonship” in their discussions. As we were reading a text out loud, this word was contained in a sentence. I was amazed to discover the spelling was different from what I had interpreted. I had always thought of the word as “sunship,” which beautifully explains the concept that we are one with the sun, attached inextricably by gravity, hurling through space as a unit. According to nasa.gov, the sun travels at about 450,000 miles per hour around the center of our milky way galaxy, and we are all on board with the sun as our vessel. 

It was explained to me that “sonship” refers to a kinship with god as part of a family. The slightly different concept of “sunship,” that is, knowing god through an awareness and appreciation of the power and vastness of the universe, provides a tantalizing version of this explanation. 

What is God

What is God? That depends upon whom you ask. To some people, God is the omnipotent prescience, the ultimate creator with which we can communicate and interact. To others, God does not exist. Some people even say humans created God to fulfill a need to explain the things we do not understand. Is there something we can agree on as a species that supports the general concept of god? Perhaps, we can at least come to a consensus that god is an extension of the consciousness of homo sapiens, specific to our species. Our curious minds have the capacity to problem solve. That gives us a unique and intriguing opportunity to explore the history of our species and our relationship with god as we evolved. 


As a physician, it is my job to help people live longer and feel better. That is the mission of the medical profession. We use data and logic to advise people of their best choices that contribute to these goals. Over the past century, scientists have developed methods of finding reliable ways to prevent and treat illness. We know that the methods work, because we have been able to double the lifespan of the average individual when we apply what we learned. It also takes personal investment of each patient to maximize their wellness by making healthy choices. Let’s explore some ways to apply this knowledge.