Soon after WWII the race to discover the “Secret of Life” was on. Scientists knew this would be the discovery of the century and would guarantee a Nobel Prize.
VS James Watson Francis Crick Cambridge University Rosalind Franklin Maurice Wilkins King’s College Caltech University Linus Pauling
King’s College Rosalind Franklin accepts a job at King’s College to work in Maurice Wilkins’ Lab At the time of her arrival Wilkins is away on other matters When Wilkins returns, he discovers that his lab is taken over by Franklin He notices that Franklin is very intelligent and is able to work independently She spends hundreds of hours perfecting her X-ray Diffraction images and hand written calculations Wilkins is still under the impression that Franklin is his assistant There is a lot of tension in the lab due to miscommunication and personality clashes FranklinWilkins King’s College
In 1951 James Watson traveled from the United States to work with Francis Crick at Cambridge University Watson and Crick used the “Model Building” approach They physically built models out of wire, sheet metal, nuts and bolts to come up with the structure of DNA Why did they build models? “Sometimes the fingers can grasp what the mind cannot” (Biology the Science of Life) Watson and Crick’s Work
Watson & Crick’s early model of DNA showed that the structure: However, Franklin disproves their model. Was a Triple Helix Had the Bases on the Outside Had the Sugar Phosphate Backbone on the Inside This sends them back to the drawing board. Watson and Crick’s supervisor stops them from model building.
Science at the time was a male dominated field Women did not receive equal treatment Women were forbidden in the lunch room Franklin is unhappy at King’s College She has no one to share ideas and collaborate with She is fed up and decides to leave King’s College But before she does, Franklin promises to finish writing up her research papers In the process of her move, Wilkins gets hold of Franklin’s work which contained the famous photo 51 Social and Cultural Environment
In 1951, Maurice Wilkins gives James Watson Rosalind Franklin’s work
Watson: “The instant I saw the picture my mouth fell open and my pulse began to race.” Page 196: Rosalind Franklin The Dark Lady of DNA
How Watson and Crick Solved the DNA Structure They already knew from Franklin and Wilkins’ work that DNA was in the form of a Double Helix They used Chargaff’s Rule to figure out how the 4 Bases match up in pairs Photo 51
How Watson and Crick Solved the DNA Structure They discovered that: The Phosphate Backbone was on the outside Which protected the Bases on the inside DNA acts as a Template or a Copying Mechanism for reproduction
Watson & Crick quickly published their Scientific Journal called “Nature” on April 25 th 1953 “Nature”
In 1962 Watson, Crick & Wilkins won the Nobel Prize for their discovery of the structure of DNA The Nobel Prize However, there is no mention of Franklin’s key work.
Discovering the Structure of DNA enabled the Scientific Community to understand the “Secret of Life” and how all life on earth is passed down from generation to generation
DNA Applications Cloning Genetically Modified Foods Genetic Engineering DNA Fingerprinting/Analysis Science and Technology have advanced astronomically since the discovery in 1953 Here are some of the achievements since that time:
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