Wednesday, April 28, 2021

DNA Part 2

Hi everyone. I'm back to share another inspired by page with you and also over at Art Journal Journey Sorry  about the wait of a few days.

This month Chris from Pear Shaped Crafting and I are hosting in memory of Eileen.

My page today is inspired by DNA once again. DNA is really an amazing microscopic chemical. If you think about how this little ladder shaped material can determine who we are and how we function. And just as amazing is how we were passed our DNA from our parents, and they get theirs from their parents. 
Et cetera. It still amazes me that if you get your DNA tested, the company that does it (like say Ancestry) can match you up to relatives based on similarities in parts of your DNA. It all makes sense scientifically, but I think  the connection to your past is still rather astonishing.

Sunday I told you about how scientists discovered the structure of DNA. Today I will talk about the rest of the story.

Part 2 of the Story


James Watson and Francis Crick built a model of DNA. They were able to do that because Watson saw a very clear photograph that another scientist, Rosalind Franklin, took with x-rays and crystallized DNA.  Franklin did not know that these men saw her photo, because somehow her co-worker, Maurice Wilkins, got a hold of it and showed it to Watson. It is one thing to openly share info, it is another to share something that isn't yours without the owner's permission.

When the articles I wrote about Sunday were published in Nature, Watson's and Crick worded their's to sound like they had not seen Rosalind Franklin's photo 51. When in fact, Watson had seen the photo.

After the Papers Were Published:

The story here really concentrates on Rosalind Franklin.  Because she was not happy working on DNA at Kings College, she finished her research, and then left to work with Aaron Klug at Birkbeck College in London.  She and Klug were studying very large molecules including those that make up viruses.

The sad news was that  shortly after joining Klug, Rosalind Franklin was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She died at age 37  in 1958. You might remember, she worked with x-rays, and there was not all the safety factors we now have.

In 1962, Crick, Wilkins and Watson each received the Nobel Prize for the work to discover DNA's structure. Franklin, because she had died, could not get the award because it is never given posthumously. 
In 1982, Aaron Klug received the Nobel Prize for his work on large molecules, the work he started with Rosalind Franklin.  He at least mentioned Rosalind Franklin and her contribution during his Nobel Prize speech, which did not happen at the 1962 Nobel prize ceremony for Watson, Crick and Wilkins, even though it was her photo that allowed Watson and Crick to build their model. 

If  you think about it, Franklin would have gotten 2 Nobel prizes had she lived, one for her DNA work and one for her large molecule work.

From an internet article about Rosalind Franklin.

I think this would have been the end of the story except that James Watson decided to write a book about how the structure of DNA was discovered. Originally it was supposed to be publish by Harvard as more of a scientific book, but since most of the people involved were still alive, Harvard had asked them to read a  draft of the book and comment.

In this book Watson was not flattering to Rosalind Franklin, and many people, including Crick and Wilkins, said so. He wrote that if she fixed her hair differently and wore make up she might be attractive. He  also referred to her as  the terrible Rosy, a not so nice name the men called her behind her back. Here she was, a very accomplished woman who had died and without whom they would not have been able to build their model as quickly as they did. Yet Watson made her out to be self-centered  "little" woman who was unwilling to show the men her photos, as though her job was to find information for them.

Because of this. Harvard decided not to publish the book. Instead, it was published by a mass market publisher, and the book went on to be a big seller. Probably a much bigger seller than if Harvard had published it.

This book is actually a quick and interesting read, more like a Hollywood expose (I know this word needs a little accent over the final e)  rather than a story of a major scientific find.

The publication of this book  caused many of Rosalind Franklin's family and friends to speak out about how she was portrayed. They were anxious to restore her name. 

Their campaign did bring many people to have a new view of what Rosalind Franklin achieved. A friend published a book about her. Other's began to add to her role to the story, making her a more important player than Watson did in his book.  Hopefully Rosalind Franklin will be remembered for the accomplished woman she was.

All three of the men went on to have long and very successful careers. 

The only one of the 4 scientists directly involved with the DNA structure now left alive is James D. Watson. He is 93, and he went on to have a distinguished career himself working at prominent labs and heading (for awhile) the US's part of the Human Genome Project. He has had some flack however for some of the other public comments he has made during his life. Some of those have had to do with comments that sound almost like he believes (which he may or may not) in eugenics, which is the belief that some races or groups of people are more genetically fit than others. However, one  other interesting thing about Watson is that there are some women scientists that he has helped in big ways in their careers.

There are so many sides to people, aren't there? 

That is not to say that any of these men were/are bad people. In the 1950's science was still a man's world where women were usually just the "helpers".  Times have changed since then, and now more women are working in science and not just being the "helpers".

That doesn't mean that using Franklin's photo 51 without her knowledge was the right thing to do. It would have been interesting to see how the story went if Rosalind Franklin had lived.

Should you be interested in Rosalind Franklin, author Brenda Maddox wrote a very good book about her. There is also a NOVA show (which might be available outside of the US on Netflix) called The Secret of Photo 51.

Rosalind Franklin has become an inspiration for many women in science.  

Watson also wrote a couple of other DNA related books. There are also books by Wilkins and Crick. 

There is also an older film (1987) by the BBC called The Race for the Double Helix.  That film take a more Watson and Crick view. I am not sure but it seems like it is based in Watson's The Double Helix book.

Hope you've enjoyed your little biology lesson.
And hope you week is going well also.



Iris Flavia said...

Oh, my godness. Only 37. Reminds one of Curie.
Yes, she sure deserved the Nobel Prize, even posthum.
Oh, read she loved to cook the French Cuisine.

Hm. Don´t we still live in a man´s world?
I was lucky - I got the same salary as my male colleagues but this is not the rule still...

Too many good books (but biology/chemistry were not my friends at school. Teachers. Huh...)

Thank you for this lesson!

Lisca said...

I'm a day late for the T-Day comments, and instead I found this little gem of a post. Thank you so much for enlightening me about Rosalind Franklin. What an interesting story, infuriating at the same time. Another great woman pushed into the shadows of time. It was her photo and it should have been acknowledged. She might also have had to have a tough attitude to survive in a man's environment like a science lab. But that doesn't mean other scientists can make nasty remarks about her character in the book. It stinks!

Meggymay said...

A great informative post Erika, it will be a long time yet until women get the recognition we deserve. Its a fabulous journal page for your topic.
Stay safe.
Yvonne xx

Valerie-Jael said...

Another wonderful post, Erika, thanks for taking the trouble to put it all together. Women so often get ignored, really infuriating. Love your beautiful journal page, too. I'm having a rest today, had a nasty fall this morning and need to rest. Stay safe, hugs, Valerie

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Wonderful art and photos. (I'm behind on my book reading.) I hope your weather has been nice there. Today we might reach 80 F, which is unseasonably high for this time of year. But, only a few days ago, we had unseasonably cold. Gotta love New England weather. ;-)

Divers and Sundry said...

Dead at 37 :( Such a loss. And speaking against someone, describing them in belittling terms, much less someone who is dead and can't speak up in their own defense, seems particularly inappropriate in a book intended to be published by Harvard. Sounds like he had issues, an agenda, and a lot of resentment. That's a shame. It's a fascinating subject.

R's Rue said...


WendyK said...

Wonderful post, love e your page.. A fascinating story, I not one I knew a lot about.
Hugs Wendy

Elkes Lebensglück said...

This is an interesting post and your journal page is beautiful.
Today women’s power is still underestimated by men.
Have a good day, Hug Elke

Neet said...

That was so interesting Erika and I will get Chas to check out Netflix for us. It is something he would be interested in too.
Although inroads have been made with women in jobs previously only roles for men there is still room for more equality, but let's not get started on that one.
A great journal page - and one with a strong message. Love the ladies you found in your packet of Petite Dolls, I haven't seen such a large group before.
HMugs, Neet
ps thanks for the info on the tree x

Mrs.B said...

A fabulous page Erika, I love the DNA wording you used along with the quote.
I enjoyed reading about the history and characters of those involved and so sad that Rosalind Franklin did not get the recognition she deserved for her part.
Have a great day.
Avril xx

Annie said...

Love this post, Erika! I of course forgot all about part 2 over the next couple of days, but I didn’t forget part 1 so quickly as I thought I would. Such an interesting condensed story of the discovery of DNA. Your artwork to go along with the story is great. The words stamp is really fun. I’ve enjoyed both posts immensely.

Jeanie said...

Fascinating, Erika. I have heard Franklin's name (somewhat recently) but not the story behind it. I do remember reading "The Double Helix" -- maybe in high school? Maybe college. I'd love to read the Maddox book. What they did to her was unconscionable, even in a day different day of male/female relationships. You just don't do that. I'm glad Harvard chose not to publish although that probably did give more exposure to the book through the mass market. Thanks for this one.

And I love your piece -- that background is fabulous.

craftytrog said...

A tragic story of an amazing woman! An interesting post Erika.
I love your page, such a great sentiment and image.
Alison xx

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I'm so very glad you shared this, Erika. I knew about the story of Rosalind Franklin and her photo. I knew she was not included in the Nobel award for the Double Helix. What I DIDN'T know was her work on large molecules. I knew she was a very talented scientist, but to be eligible for TWO Nobels had she lived, blew my mind.

Your second DNA entry is precious. I love the women you chose. Franklin would have been proud. So would Eileen, I'm sure. thanks for yet another great entry for AJJ. You are rocking this month, dear.

pearshapedcrafting said...

The story of Rosalind Franklin has been fascinating.. What a shame her life was cut short. Your journal page is fantastic ! Hugs, Chrisx