Science, the certainty of Rosalind Franklin’s contribution to the discovery of the structure of DNA

Science, the certainty of Rosalind Franklin’s contribution to the discovery of the structure of DNA


Unpublished documents shed light on one of the most important scientific discoveries of the twentieth century. In an editorial published on natures this week , Matthew Cobb And Nathaniel Comfort He argues that a previously overlooked letter and an unpublished article, both written in 1953, add to several pieces of evidence showing that Rosalind Franklin – British chemist, biochemist and crystallographer, died in 1958 – He was an equal contributor to the discovery of the structure of DNA.

The basic paper of James Watson And Francis Crick On the discovery of the double helix of DNA published in natures This week 70 years ago. Legend has it that the moment of enlightenment came when Watson showed Crick an X-ray of DNA taken by Franklin, without her knowledge or permission. Known as Image 51, this image has been called the “philosopher’s stone in molecular biology,” Cope and Comfort write. “And It became a symbol of Franklin’s success and mistreatment”, they explain. To this day, Franklin is portrayed as an accomplished scientist, but unable to decipher what her data tells her about the structure of DNA. She was supposed to carry the photo for months without realizing its significance, just to let Watson understands it at a glance.

But when visiting the Franklin Archives at Churchill College, Cambridge, UK, the authors found a draft of an unpublished article – written by the journalist Joanne Bruce In collaboration with Franklin and intended for publication in the journal time – plus a dirty letter from one of Franklin’s colleagues to Crick. Together, these documents indicate that Franklin understood the structure of DNA. Cope and Comfort argue that Franklin was “an equal member of the quartet that resolved the double helix”. He, along with Maurice Wilkins, was, they concluded, “one half of the team that posed the scientific question, took important initial steps toward a solution, provided critical data and verified the result.”

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