I’d forgotten the Brits say pants where we Canucks say underpants, a type of linguistic confusion which can lead to crosscultural snafus, as it did for me this morning (Aug. 23, 2013) on reading Stuart Clark’s Guardian Science blog posting, Pants named after astronomer Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (Note: Links have been removed),
You know that science communication has reached a whole new level when someone names a pair of women’s pants after an astronomer.
Today [August 23, 2013], internet-based retailer Who Made Your Pants? launches a line of women’s pants called Cecilia, named after Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, the pioneering 20th century astronomer who explained the composition of the stars.
I’ve been an admirer of Payne’s achievements for a long time and couldn’t resist using her as a character in my novel The Day Without Yesterday.
She changed the face of astrophysics with her 1925 PhD thesis, in which she demonstrated that the sun was made almost exclusively from hydrogen and helium. Only 2% of its mass came from the other chemical elements, such as iron, oxygen and silicon.
Her name was chosen for the undergarment in a popular vote on the Who Made Your Pants? Facebook page. Customers were offered a choice between Cecilia, cell donor Henrietta Lacks and astronaut Sally Ride.
Becky John, who runs the company, and is also an organiser of the Winchester Science Festival says, “We will always name our pants after women who have been forgotten.”
Clark’s piece is amusing (he’s got a good punch line at the end) and informative and I recommend reading it.
Who Made Your Pants? is a campaigning lingerie brand based in Southampton, UK. We’re about two things – amazing pants, and amazing women.
We think that every day should be a good pants day, and that there should be a little bit of gorgeous under everyone’s clothes, something just for them. So we buy fabrics that have been sold on by big underwear companies at the end of season, stop them ending up as waste and turn them into gorgeous new pants that have a great start in life. They’re designed to sit flat under clothes, have no VPL [visible panty line], and be comfortable and all day fabulous.
We also think that it’s not really on for anyone to be made to work in bad conditions just for a cheap pair of pants. Who could feel lovely in something made in a bad place? So we make our pants in a great place. We’ve a little factory in Southampton where we create jobs for women who’ve had a hard time. The first job everyone learns is making the pants. We hope that all jobs within the business can be filled by the women as they gain skills though – if someone is interested in marketing, or finance, we’ll arrange training
When I first clicked through to the company website I was expecting to see what the Brits call trousers and found this instead,The company also has a ‘Rosalind’ as in a Rosalind Franklin pant, It seems to be a ‘Rosalind Franklin’ week here as I embedded a rap created by a grade seven class for Tom McFadden’s Battle Rap Histories of Epic Science (Brahe’s Battles) about her in an Aug. 19, 2013 posting (scroll down to the end of the post for the video). For anyone not familiar with Rosalind Franklin and the controversy, here’s an essay about it and her on the San Diego Supercomputer Center website.