Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy DNA Day!

On this day 61 years ago, the structure of DNA was published in Nature.

All of the papers that were published by Watson and Crick, Rosalind Franklin, and Maurice Wilkins are now openly available!

File:Photo 51 x-ray diffraction image.jpgWhile we often credit Watson and Crick for this amazing and important discovery, their work would not have been possible without Franklin's (and her grad student's) x-ray diffraction images (shown right).  Wilkins took the images and showed them to Watson and Crick without her knowledge.  The two then used characteristics and features of the images to make their model of the structure of DNA.  

While Crick was quick to give credit to Franklin's work in this important discovery, Watson has repeatedly painted her in a negative way, even referring to her patronizingly as "Rosy" in his memoirs (a name by which she never actually went).  But no one ever accused Watson of being a nice guy.

All four scientists were nominated for a Nobel prize in 1962, though Franklin was not alive to receive it - she died in 1958.  Rosalind Franklin's lesser-known contributions to science include the structure of RNA and viruses.

(anyone remember this awesome google doodle?)

Anyone interested in reading about other women in science who were snubbed, feel free to start here.


  1. Was she also the scientist who developed cancer, possibly as a result of her exposure to radiation during her research??

    1. She did develop tumors, maybe due to exposure to radiation. It also happened to Marie Curie.