Thursday, July 25, 2013

Google Doodle Honors Rosalind Franklin

On this day in 1920, Rosalind Franklin was born. She helped discover the structure of DNA by taking an X-ray diffraction image of it in 1952. This image became known as Photo 51 and played a critical role in the understanding of DNA. However, in her lifetime, Rosalind Franklin received only cursory recognition of her contributions to the study of DNA, while Francis Crick and James Watson were widely hailed as the scientists that discovered the molecule. The two men, together with Maurice Milkins, later won a Nobel Prize "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material."

When Watson and Crick published their double-helix model of DNA, they only acknowledged Franklin's work a month later in a footnote. Rosalind Franklin never did much to protest this inadequate acknowledgement. Her biographer, Brenda Maddox, states that it was only 40 years after seeing Franklin's Photo 51 that Watson publicly acknowledged that it was the "key event"in understanding DNA.

Today's Google Doodle celebrates what would have been Rosalind Franklin's 93rd birthday with an image of the double helix, and Ms. Franklin's Photo 51.

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