Tag Archives: James Watson

this day in the yesteryear: First Nobel Prizes Awarded (1901)

First Nobel Prizes Awarded (1901)

The Nobel Prizes, named after Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, are awarded annually to those who have made outstanding contributions to the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, peace, and—since 1969—economic sciences. Nobel is said to have been inspired to create the prizes after reading his own prematurely published obituary, which condemned his invention of dynamite and referred to him as “the merchant of death.” What family has amassed the most Nobel Prizes? More… Discuss


today’s birthday: Fritz Haber (1868)

Fritz Haber (1868)

Haber was a Nobel Prize-winning German chemist whose work was instrumental in the development of poison gas during World War I. He was unwavering in his support of chemical warfare and staunchly defended his work against critics, though he might have felt differently had he known how the Nazis would use the gas he helped develop against its own people—indeed Haber’s own relatives—just a few years later. His wife, on the other hand, was deeply opposed. In what way did she protest his work? More… Discuss

WHAT IS: Photo 51


Photo 51, showing x-ray diffraction pattern of DNA

Photo 51 is the nickname given to an X-ray diffraction image of DNA taken by Raymond Gosling in May 1952, working as a PhD student under the supervision of Rosalind Franklin,[1][2][3][4] at King’s College London in Sir John Randall‘s group. It was critical evidence[5] in identifying the structure of DNA[6]

James Watson was shown the photo by Maurice Wilkins without Rosalind Franklin’s approval or knowledge and along with Francis Crick, Watson used characteristics and features of Photo 51 to develop the chemical model of DNA molecule. In 1962, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Watson, Crick and Wilkins. The prize was not awarded to Franklin; she had died 4 years earlier, making her ineligible for nomination. [7]

The photograph provided key information that was essential for developing a model of DNA.[8][6] The diffraction pattern determined the helical nature of the double helix strands (antiparallel). The outside linings of DNA have a phosphate backbone, and codes for inheritance are inside the helix. Watson and Crick’s calculations from Franklin’s photography gave crucial parameters for the size and structure of the helix. [8][9][10]

Photo 51 became a crucial data source[11] that led to the development of the DNA model and confirmed the prior postulated double helical structure of DNA, which were presented in the articles in the Nature journal by Raymond Gosling.

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James D. Watson (1928)

Watson is an American biologist who, with Francis Crick, researched the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) at Cambridge in the 1950s. Their findings earned them the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Watson later became director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York and served as director of the National Center for Human Genome Research, which undertook the Human Genome Project. What landmark non-fiction book did Watson write in 1968? More… Discuss

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