Saturday, April 25, 2009

On DNA - From Today's Writer's Almanac

This information in today's Writer's Almanac about DNA makes me happy. "Deoxyribose nucleic acid." Say that three times really fast! To contemplate the building blocks of our bodies, beings.....?!

I say "Thank you" to Watson and Crick for their work compiling others' research efforts. I celebrate the initially, un-acknowledged Rosalind Franklin. I marvel considering who and where our next Nobel-prize winning scientists are. I stand in awe considering all the information that is held in my own DNA, as well as yours. "What will we discover or learn next?"


It was on this day in 1953 that Watson and Crick published the article in which they proposed the structure of DNA. The article appeared in Nature magazine, and it was only about a page long. It began, "We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (D.N.A.). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest." Their hypothesis about the double-helix structure of DNA revolutionized biology and paved the way for the field of genetics. Some science historians rank their feat with Newton describing the laws of physics.

Watson and Crick's discovery was actually the result of synthesizing many other people's ideas and research. They spent relatively little time in the laboratory doing experiments. They relied on the research of others, especially Rosalind Franklin, who had taken X-ray photographs of DNA samples. Their initial failure to acknowledge their huge debt to her caused a great debate in the scientific world. Many people felt that she should have shared the Nobel Prize, which Watson and Crick won in 1962.

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