Watson, Crick, Franklin and Williams's teamwork on DNA?

malkin86

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Dotpoint 4.12 -

process information from secondary sources to describe and analyse the relative importance of the work of: -

*James Watson
*Francis Crick
*Rosalind Franklin
*Maurice Williams

in determining the structure of DNA and the impact of the quality of collaboration and communication on their scientific research.

From what I can gather so far (http://www.hsc.csu.edu.au/biology/core/blueprint/9_3_2/BIO934NET.htm#net12 )

they barely worked as a team at all - Franklin was assigned a spurious senior (Williams), it was implied in something else I read (New Scientist , IIRC), because she was a woman. He then shared her work with her rivals (Watson & Crick, and the three men hogged all the glory for quite a long time. Franklin died before they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
 
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untamedanimal

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I know that Williams didnt really like working under a woman and he gave the results that they found the Watson and Crick against the wishes of Franklin who wanted to do more research
 

xiao1985

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that is indeed true... sexism in the scientific society at the time (well, even now) has severely impeded the developments of genetics and DNA structure... when franklin puts forward her result of DNA structure using x-ray diffraction, she was ridiculed as a radical feminist who proposed the fantasised model...
 

frodo

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isnt it wilkins? instead of WIlliams?
 

CM_Tutor

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Be aware of the fact that many accounts of the relative importance of Franklin, Watson, Crick and Wilkins are somewhat biased by their author's perspective, and also preconceptions.

For example, it is often mentioned that Franklin did not share the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine that was shared by Watson, Crick and Wilkins in 1962. What is usually not mentioned is that the Nobel Prize is never awarded posthumously, and since Franklin was dead it was not possible for her to share the prize. Now, in my opinion an exception should have been made in her case, especially as her role was (IMO) much more significant than was Wilkins, but the fact remains that the Nobel Committee was applying a policy that had existed since the inception of the prizes, and which still exists.

Furthermore, whilst Franklin's X-ray diffraction data confirmed the helical structure was correct, she had consistently argued against a helical model, and only came around to the view of a helical structure late in the process. The notion that it was Franklin who first proposed a helical model is not supported by the data. In fact, Pauling published a three chain helical model for DNA prior to the Nature paper of Watson and Crick. It should also be remembered that Watson and Crick were working under Bragg, who was responsible for the development of X-ray diffraction, so when examining Franklin's data, they were well qualified (Crick, in particular) to immediately recognise its confirmation of their helical model. It was also Watson and Crick's modelling work that identified the critical aspect of base pairing.

Another fact that is often neglected is the fact that Crick and Franklin often collaborated after the DNA discovery, and both greatly respected the others work. Undoubtedly Franklin was mistreated by Wilkins, but I don't think that Watson and Crick deserve the accusations made against them. I also think that the importance of their modelling work and discussions about the dominant forms of the tautomers present in the individual bases is sometimes underrated.

If anyone is interested in the issue, you could try reading Watson's book The Double Helix, first published in 1968. It is a fascinating account of the discovery, including Franklin's role and a discussion of the internal dynamics at work between Franklin and Wilkins.

FWIW, in my opinion a fair assessment of their relative importance is Watson = Crick > Franklin > Wilkins.
 

malkin86

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Quite simply, Wilkins had no idea about how to deal with a woman in his laboratory. .. Franklin arrived under the impression that she was taking over the xray diffraction work on DNA. Wilkins, on the other hand, thought she was being taken on as his assistant.

Wilkins apparently drew into a shell of distant politeness, while Franklin adopted a cold insistant manner. There was precious little intercourse (social, dialogue) between them.

The subsequent lunch in the Eagle (after the unveiling of the incorrect DNA by Crick & Wilson) was a sticky affair. Franklin was like a thundercloud, her unwilling partner Wilkins just wished he wasnt there; Crick attempted a light bombast over his beer, and Watson sat squirming with uncharacteristic embarrasment

From "Crick, Watson and DNA"

By Paul Strathern.
 

untamedanimal

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Originally posted by malkin86
Wilkins apparently drew into a shell of distant politeness, while Franklin adopted a cold insistant manner. There was precious little intercourse (social, dialogue) between them.
Lucky intercourse was explained or we might have been getting into a different biology topic
 

malkin86

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Originally posted by untamedanimal
Lucky intercourse was explained or we might have been getting into a different biology topic
oh yeah. A quote from my bio teacher when explaining artificial insemination ' their sperm can cover the earth'.
 

xiao1985

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lolz ^^ i fully respect cm_tutor now =) ... the next thing i might see is he eliting all the queries in physcis forum =D

all those info would be more than enough to be stuck into that dp ^^
 

CM_Tutor

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Xiao1985, you won't see me answering anything much in Biology or Physics - I don't know anywhere near enough about them. However, the DNA story is an essentially chemical one, especially with respect to the determination of its structure, so I'm familiar with it - I also read Watson's book a few years ago, and I think that some of the comments made about the sidelining of Franklin are made by people who obviously have an ideological barrow to push, and so aren't overly concerned about the facts.
 

steffie

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Why are there no "Blueprint of Life" resources around? I've found it to be the hardest topic in the course.
 

cateyvenn

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I don't believe Watson and Crick deserve much accreditation because althoug they had the knowledge to create an effective model of DNA, they had poor data to work off and made many wrong model's, only making a correct one when they had the data that Franklins had, which Watson took without knowledge or permission from Franklin. Also, the book he wrote put Franklins in such a bad way, a most shocking and false representation that both Crick and Wilkins both procliamed to be false as Franklins was nothing like had prtrayed. From this is don't think that the book should be used or believed due to its falsehood
 

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