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Rosalind Franklin

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Rosalind Franklin was a famous scientist who was practically born to be a scientist. She had a knack for physics and chemistry and excelled in these subjects. She did so amazing she got a scholarship. She worked in Paris and many other colleges. She also added much knowledge to the scientific world. She added the knowledge of x-rays, crystallography, viruses, virology, RNA, and, what she is most known for, DNA. Although she was a great scientist and tried to do her best at everything, she ran into a couple of major life situations. The first was competing with Watson and Crick, who tried to steal her discovery and make it their own. She took it very well, for when she found this out she did not even criticize them. The second problem was that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. And although she worked hard despite of it, the cancer took her life at age 37. The question is, if she had lived longer, what else could she have given to the scientific world?

You look at science (or at least talk of it) as some sort of demoralising invention of man, something apart from real life, and which must be cautiously guarded and kept separate from everyday existence. But science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated." Quoted by Rosalind Franklin. [1]

Early Years

It is possible that Rosalind Franklin was born to be a scientist. She was born on July 25, 1920 and was given the name Rosalind Elsie Franklin. She was born in a city called Notting Hill, which is in London. She was born into a very prominent Jewish family. At a very young age people could tell she was incredibly smart. Then, by the age of 15 she knew that she wanted to be a scientist.[2] This could have been because her father had wanted to be a scientist. He would have been one too, if World War II had not shortened his college education. So he became a college professor instead.[3] It could also be the fact that she did exceptionally well in chemistry and physics. Her genius in these subjects were shown at St. Paul's girls school in London.[4] Her father had tried to dissuade her from trying to become a chemist, because it was difficult for women in her time to become scientists. Luckily, St. Paul's was one of very few school that was willing to teach girls chemistry and physics.[3]


After high school, in 1938, Franklin went to Newnham College in Cambridge. In 1941, for her finals she received Second Class Honors which was equivalent to a bachelors degreeCite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many After she had graduated she was gifted with a scholarship. This scholarship gave her the opportunity to do gas chromatography.[5]


She used this to work at R.G.W. Norrish's lab, but Franklin did not accomplish much here. For Norrish saw the brilliance in the young woman and saw that she could accomplish many things, but he never encouraged or supported her because she was female.[6] So after one year she left and pursued a job at the British Coal Utilization Research Association. Here she experimented with coke's microstructure. [5] She was offered a job as an assistant research officer and, leaving her connection at Norrish's lab she accepted the job.[7] Here she experimented with coke's microstructure.[5] She also researched the porosity of coal here. Her time at the British Coal Utilization Research Association gave her the idea and beginning for her Ph.D. thesis in 1945 which was "The physical chemistry of solid organic colloids with special reference to coal."Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many


Next, she met Marcel Mathieu, who an old friend had introduced her to. Marcel Mathieu was a director of most of the research in the country of France. He was really amazed with Rosalind Franklin and all the work she had accomplished so far that he presented her with a job offer as a "chercheur"(researcher). [8] In 1946, she moved to Paris and started working at the Laboratoire Central des Services Chimiques de l'Etat. Here, she worked along side a scientist by the name of Jacques Mering.


Jacques Mering was a crystallographer, which is a person who experiments with the determining of arrangements of atoms in crystalline solids. Here Mering taught Franklin about X-ray diffraction. This knowledge came into play in the uncovering of the structure of DNA. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many

Discoveries and Achievements

Franklin's work with viruses.

Franklin's career really took off in January, 1951. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many She had been offered a scholarship to work as a researcher at King's College in London for three years. [9]She was asked by John Randall to join the research team. He wanted her to help their researchers with the study of DNA fibers. Because she had worked with X-ray crystallography, where you are able to detect the shape of something by looking at it through an X-ray, she was the perfect choice. Her appointed job in the lab was to figure out the structure of DNA. This job suited her quite well because she had learned so much about physical science. This knowledge helped her to design fibers that were smaller in width, making them easier to detect in an X-ray.[5]

Franklin had also brought with her a student, Raymond Gosling. With his help, the two discovered something incredible. They found DNA was composed of two different forms "A" and "B". Form "A" was a wet form. The other form , "B", was a dry form. The two scientist were also able to take a picture of their discovery. This picture had taken over 100 hours to be taken. The photo was taken on a machine that Franklin had improved and it was taken through X-ray contact. The picture was of form "B" and it became famous. It got the name "Photograph 51", and it was one of the most important keys in completely knowing the structure of DNA.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many

Franklin was a hard worker and what one might call a perfectionist. Many people thought very highly of her, including John Desmond Bernal. He was an English scientist who was known for his controversy. He was a leader in x-ray crystallography. He gave Franklin a great complement around the time of her death.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many

Though many people did like her, there was one man who despised her. His name was Maurice Wilkins. He was also a x-ray crystallographer. He was also working to solve the mystery of DNA. When he was away, John Randall had hired Franklin to work at King's College. When Maurice got back he thought she was hired to be his assistant, but she wasn't. This lead to a crack in their relationship that would never be healed.[3] This is because he continued to treat her like an assistant instead of an actual scientist, because of the fact that she was a women.[10]

Recognition Debate

Franklin's picture that lead her to the discovery of DNA.

Since Wilkins had something against Franklin, he would create one of the greatest debates of that time. Without asking Franklin, he showed the photo 51 to James Watson, another scientist. Watson was partnering with another man by the name of Francis Crick. The two of them had been constructing some type of a DNA model. So they took her photograph and used it for their model.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many It has been said that she didn't understand her own data, but in 1951 she presented it. She gave a lecture where she gave a presentation on the two different forms of the molecule, and she described everything perfectly. This lecture ultimately lead to the bases of later models of this molecule.[5] Including Watson and Crick, who were there, but they would never had admitted to it. It even was said in Watson and Crick's book, that Watson gave none of his attention to the scientist.[3]

On March 7, 1953 three articles were published in Nature, and it was Franklin's, Wilkin's, and Watson and Crick's. Many people would have been mad if they found out another person had taken their theory or discovery, but Franklin was not one of those people. In fact she was surprisingly calm about it. This could been a result of how she was raised for she didn't even say one negative word about them, at least none that were recorded. The sad thing was that after she died, Watson and Crick received the Nobel Peace Prize for the model of DNA.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many

End Additions and Death

In 1953, Franklin left King's College, and she moved on to Birkbeck College. Here she studied the frames of RNA and tobacco mosaic virus. She also studied other things, such as coal, but not DNA. This is because she had promised Randall she would not work on DNA. After working at Birkbeck College for five years she wrote seventeen papers on viruses. She also started the ball rolling for virology.

Then in 1956, during the fall, Franklin realized she had a type of cancer. She had ovarian cancer. That didn't stop her, she kept right on working. She did undergo three operations and tried her hand at chemotherapy, but that didn't help. She even went into a remission for ten months, but it came back. So she continued to work right up to her death. Then she died April 16, 1958 at only age 37.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many

Video

A video on the debate of who really discovered DNA.

References

  1. . Science Quotes by Rosalind Franklin TODAYINSCI. Web. accessed: May 4, 2015. Author Unknown
  2. Rosalind Franklin Biography The Biography.com website. Web. Date accessed: Apr 19, 2015. Author Unknown
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Biography 19: Rosalind Elsie Franklin (1920-1958) DNA Learning Center. Web. Date accessed: Apr 19, 2015.
  4. . Rosalind Franklin Famous Scientist. Web. Date accessed: Apr 19, 2015 . Author Unknown
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Rosalind Franklin Famous Scientist. Web. Date accessed: Apr 19, 2015 . Author Unknown
  6. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Biography 19: Rosalind Elsie Franklin (1920-1958) DNA Learning Center. Web. Date accessed: Apr 19, 2015.
  7. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Biography 19: Rosalind Elsie Franklin (1920-1958) DNA Learning Center. Web. Date accessed: Apr 19, 2015.
  8. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Biography 19: Rosalind Elsie Franklin (1920-1958) DNA Learning Center. Web. Date accessed: Apr 19, 2015.
  9. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Biography 19: Rosalind Elsie Franklin (1920-1958) DNA Learning Center. Web. Date accessed: Apr 19, 2015.
  10. Lee, Jane J. [130519-women-scientists-overlooked-dna-history-science 6 Women Scientists Who Were Snubbed Due to Sexism] National Geographic. Web. published May 19, 2013.