Rosalind Franklin’s True Role in the DNA Double Helix Breakthrough
It has long been rumored that James Watson and Francis Crick hit on the double helix structure of DNA “only after stealing data from Rosalind Franklin, a physical chemist working at King’s College London.” But is that what really happened? Two science writers, one writing on Watson and one writing on Crick, have found the answer to this science mystery. Here’s more from Nature:
…we visited Franklin’s archive at Churchill College in Cambridge, UK, and went through her notes together, reconstructing the development of her ideas. We also found a hitherto unstudied draft news article from 1953, written in consultation with Franklin and meant for Time, a US magazine with international reach — as well as an overlooked letter from one of Franklin’s colleagues to Crick. Together, these documents suggest a different account of the discovery of the double helix. Franklin did not fail to grasp the structure of DNA. She was an equal contributor to solving it.
Getting Franklin’s story right is crucial, because she has become a role model for women going into science. She was up against not just the routine sexism of the day, but also more subtle forms embedded in science — some of which are still present today.
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