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Friday, December 08, 2023

What really happened between Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, and Francis Crick?

That's part of the title of podcast by Kat Arney who interviews Matthew Cobb [Double helix double crossing? What really happened between Rosalind Franklin, James Watson and Francis Crick?].

Matthew Cobb is one of the world's leading experts on the history of molecular biology.

The way it’s usually told, Franklin was effectively ripped off and belittled by the Cambridge team, especially Watson, and has only recently been restored to her rightful place as one of the key discoverers of the double helix. It’s a dramatic narrative, with heroes, villains and a grand prize. But, as I found out when I sat down for a chat with Matthew Cobb, science author and Professor of Zoology at the University of Manchester, the real story is a lot more nuanced.

Photo 51 did not belong to Rosalind Franklin and it had (almost) nothing to do with solving the structure of DNA. Franklin and Wilkins would never have gotten the structure on their own. Crick and Watson did not "steal" any data. Whether they behaved ethically is debatable.


Gregory Morgan said...

If you are interested in the post 1953 interactions, check out a paper Angela Creager and I wrote a while back:

Robert Byers said...

It ffigures. its common to see endless accusations about you gets the credit for accomplishments. On Sandwalk once a guy was tryingh to say Darwin took his idea from someone e;se. i defended darwin bit because i think he accomplushed anything but i knew it was a false accusation. Unfortunately come creationists have repeated this error.
i don't know this story but I suspect the desire to see women get credit in science is more then a part of it. I see them do that. Everybody wants the credit for intelligence in bigger groups of identities. Its pride more then sincere scholarship.

Monado said...

Well, it is clear that Patrick Matthew, a Scot, tossed off a clearly articulated concept of natural selection in the appendix of a book on naval timber. ( ). That's the instance I know about. There was also another Scotsman who published a description of the concept, which was also acknowledged by Darwin and Wallace. Finally, apparently James Hutton, the famous geologist, mentioned it. So there are legitimate instances. Scotland's education system and libraries may lie behind the tremendous ferment of Scottish innovation during this period.