Watson Describes a Talk by Rosalind Franklin

BY mid-November, when Rosy's talk on DNA rolled about, I had learned enough crystallographic argument to follow much of her lecture.. Most important, I knew what to focus attention upon. Six weeks of listening to Francis had made me realize that the crux of the matter was whether Rosy's new X-ray pictures would lend any sup-port for a helical DNA structure. The really relevant experimental details were those which might provide clues in constructing molecular models. It took, however, only a few minutes of listening to Rosy to realize that her determined mind had set upon a different course of action.

She spoke to an audience of about fifteen in a quick, nervous style that suited the unornamented old lecture hall in which we were seated. There was not a trace of warmth or frivolity in her words. And yet I could not regard her as totally uninteresting. Momentarily I wondered how she would look if she took off her glasses and did something novel with her hair. Then, however, my main concern was her description of the crystalline X-ray dif-fraction pattern.

The years of careful, unemotional crystallographic training had left their mark. She had not had the advantage of a rigid Cambridge education only to be so foolish as to misuse it. It was downright obvious to her that the only way to establish the DNA structure was by pure crystallographic approaches. As model building did not appeal to her, at no time did she mention Pauling's triumph over the α-helix. The idea of using tinker-toy-like models to solve biological structures was clearly a last resort. Of course Rosy knew of Linus' success but saw no obvious reason to ape his mannerisms. The measure of his past triumphs was sufficient reason in itself to act differently; only a genius of his stature could play like a ten-year-old boy and still get the right answer.


And, curiously, remarks on his momentary thoughts about how she could make herself more attractive.

Folksonomies: history science sexism

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DNA (0.965147): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
James D. Watson (0.609840): dbpedia | freebase | yago
X-ray crystallography (0.590879): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Rosalind Franklin (0.582158): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Linus Pauling (0.542020): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Francis Crick (0.500713): dbpedia | freebase | yago
DNA structure (0.454797): dbpedia
Molecular models of DNA (0.453165): website | dbpedia | freebase

 The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Watson , James D. (2001-06-12), The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, Touchstone, Retrieved on 2011-08-10
Folksonomies: history science biography