I am disturbed that none of my professors have bothered to mention Rosalind Franklin’s contribution to “Watson and Crick’s” description. Who did more real science, the person who actually showed the structure or those who drew the obvious inferences?
Their description contains the following assertions: DNA is double stranded in antiparallel sequences of four nucleotides bonded to each other by hydrogen bonds, producing two complimentary base pairs that provide a basis for accurate replication. It is telling to note the mistake in assuming it is the pairing that provides the basis for accurate replication. In the same paper they deny the existence of RNA as a coding molecule: “it is probably impossible to build this structure with a ribose in the place of the deoxyribose”. Additionally they assert that there are two hydrogen bonds in each base pairing, further revealing their ignorance in chemistry. Anyone who had done basic denaturing experiments of the sort used in discovering the five purine and pyrimidine variants a full half-century before Watson & Crick’s paper would have seen that one of the pairings has a different energy.
The double helix portion is what Watson got from seeing Franklin’s innovative X-ray crystallography, and the rest of the paper could have been written by anyone who was able to add two and two together.
Luckily, Crick was available to do the tedious math and dash a paper to publication without even mentioning Franklin by name, only a quick falsehood asserting they hadn’t seen her work, which clearly showed the double helix, before publication.
Crick is so blinded by the power of simple math that, in 1961, he announces at his Nobel Prize speech: “In all probability, therefore, codons do not overlap”, implying 64 amino acids. If Crick had taken the time to read the most highly cited paper in publishing history, already a decade old by the time he took his trophy, and stooped to testing his theory using the protocol described therein, he would have saved himself the embarrassment.
So the woman who did the real work gets no recognition, while the man who lifted her research, made some basic and false inferences, established a false and misleading Dogma that gets taught to gullible graduate students to this day, and for this he gets a Nobel?