Calendar Curiosities: April 16, 1958- Rosalind Franklin, biophysicist & double helix ‘photographer’ dies.
The 2008/2009 Skepchick/Skepdude Calendars are slated to go on sale June 1st. Â (Details for purchase coming soon.) Â They’re full of geeky, skeptical, science-y goodness, so be sure to get your order in early!
Moving on to the exceptional Dr. Franklin:
Very short backstory: Â Researching at King’s College London, Franklin studied the structure of DNA. Â Using her expertise as an x-ray crystallographer, Â she took the famous Photo 51, used by Watson and Crick as part of the evidence supporting the double-helix structure of DNA, in their Nobel Prize winning, world changing paper published in Nature on 25 April 1953. Â That same issue features an article co-authored by Franklin, which includes Photo 51.
Skepchick point of interest:Â Before her death from cancer at the too-young age of 37,Â Franklin was a ground breaking girl scientist. Â She was an assertive, fastidious, careful researcher, and did significant work on resolving the structure of DNA, as well as the microstructure of coal, and the complete tobacco mosaic virus- all using x-ray crystallography. Â
Not-so-Skepchick? There is some controversy regarding the sharing of that famous photo with Watson and Crick. Â There is certainly evidence that her contributions were minimized, and due to her untimely death in 1958, she was ineligible for considerationÂ for the 1962 Nobel Prize. Â Watson’s portrayal of her in The Double HelixÂ was condemned as inaccurate by their peers at the time of it’s publication.