"Franklin, my dear, we DO give a damn!"
Rosalind Franklin's First Photograph of DNA structure
Rosalind Franklin's extraordinary 1953 photograph of the DNA double helix was the impetus for Watson and Crick realizing the helix supports were on the outside of the structure with the phosphate "rungs" pointing inward. Until then, both Watson and Crick, Linus Pauling, and other researchers hypothesized the phosphates were on the outside. Franklin's research and extraordinary photograph 51 (shown below)
were pivotal in understanding the double helix model. Yet, Rosalind Franklin received no credit for her pioneering work in x-ray crystallography of the DNA, or for the amazing photograph. Watson and Crick both later wrote that her photograph was "key" to their understanding of the structure of DNA. PBS has chronicled her story in a documentary entitled "Secret of Photograph 51:"
And Brenda Maddox has also written Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA.
My Halloween costume will be of Rosalind Franklin, complete with photo 51 emblazoned on a t-shirt, microscope, a DNA model, and a lab coat.
I decided this was a wise choice after making DNA models with the kindergarteners on Friday. They asked me more than once "Was she a girl?" Yes, Rosalind Franklin was a girl/woman who, sadly, died at age 37 of complications from ovarian cancer. She did not receive credit for her amazing x-ray crystallography work on the DNA helix. Most (but not all) people I have shared her story with over the past week or so were completely unaware of her contributions.
The kids and I also worked together on one giant table making a very long double helix. I (oh so subtly) mentioned that working on scientific discoveries and models together is the way to go.
To you, Rosalind Franklin, thank you for your extraordinary x-ray crystallography, your methodical, detailed research, and for Photograph 51.
Frankly/Franklin, my dear, we DO give a damn!
I would enjoy hearing your thoughts about Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958).
Word Woman (aka Scientific Steph)
P.S. My trusty canine pup is considering accompanying me as Helix, the Dog. :-)