24 Responses to “Rosalind Franklin”

  1. Jason Porath

    Rad! Thank you!

  2. Emilie Ma

    Damn, I dressed up as Rosalind Franklin for last year’s Halloween costume (my Chem professor offered extra credit for a chemistry-related costume!), but I got it wrong cuz I interpreted “the picture” as related to photography. Ah, well. Still, it’s sweet to see a shoutout to Franklin!

  3. BeckyinVT

    Will there be a poster soon? I work in a DNA lab and we have a big, empty wall we need to fill!!

  4. wicwacwoe

    I love your website/blog!

    One thing though, didn’t Linus Pauling assert that DNA was in the structure of a triple helix and Watson actually realized that Pauling was wrong? I’m a little shaky on genetics (though we just did that unit in my biology class), but I found a source agreeing with me:


    But maybe your research said otherwise and perhaps that’s correct. :) Again, great post and great website! I look forward to new posts every Wednesday!

  5. Benji Roberts

    Pauling did put forward a triple helix. At least three groups were pursuing that possibility including Watson and Crick early on.

  6. Jason Porath

    You might be right, actually – let me consult my books when I get back home. Now that you mention it, I believe they did think it was three at one point and then shifted to two, which my writeup doesn’t reflect.

  7. Barak Pearlmutter

    When she was dying of cancer, Rosalinn Franklin chose to spend the last months of her life as a houseguest of James Watson and his wife.

  8. Saraquill

    In high school genetics we watched the movie “The Race for the Double Helix.” It focused on Watson and Crick and made sure to feature Franklin as a major character. My classmates were more impressed by Franklin than the other two.

  9. Botty Paige

    Died at *37. The Nobel was awarded in ’62, she died in ’58, the Nobel Committee does not give posthumous awards. She was studying the structure of viruses in general, the tobacco mosaic virus was just one of the exemplars or test subjects she was working with (I think she was also using polio, smallpox or measles or something else with a lot of notoriety behind its name. One of the people working with her on that also later won a Nobel using work which likely would have been sufficient to see her awarded as a co-recipient, had she been alive. That whole lunch room gender segregation thing and the part about 1/3 of her peers being women, maybe 1/3 of the total staff for the building were women but there was only 1 other female scientist working in the lab, which actually makes the lack of access to peers during that time even more drastic because most of the other women around would have been secretaries, clerks or some type of administrative workers.

  10. Sarah Michelle Schwartz

    You should do one on Lise Meitner as well yet another Jewish woman who should have gotten a Nobel Prize but didn’t because her male partner Otto Han didn’t mention her at all despite the fact she was the one who first discovered nuclear fission!

  11. Barak Pearlmutter

    Lise Meitner did indeed deserve that Nobel Prize, and Otto Han along with the Nobel Committee dealt her a raw deal.

    I do feel like I should mention a few facts that are relevant. These even don’t change basic point. Actually they strengthen the case for doing a Rejected Princess piece on Lise Meitner.

    First, Lise Meitner converted to Christianity long before these events. So (putting aside Nazi standards of Jewishness, despite their relevance to the story) she was not Jewish, and thus not a Jewish Princess. Perhaps “A Rejected Princess of Jewish extraction”. This doesn’t effect the science, but it might effect a cartoon.

    And second, it isn’t really true that Rosalind Franklin was denied a Nobel Prize, as she was dead at the time of its award to Watson and Crick. It is hard to know if the prize committee would have included her in the award. It is true that Watson and Crick did not mention her name very prominently. On the other hand, at the time of her death she apparently held no ill will towards Watson, since she crashed at his house for some time while dying of cancer. And unlike the case with Meitner, Franklin was not a collaborator with Watson and Crick: they saw her DNA x-ray diffraction data in a seminar she gave, and figured out themselves how to interpret it. It might have been *nice* of them to include her as a co-author or to collaborate with her on interpreting the data. But the data had been made publicly available, so they weren’t under any obligation to do so.

    So: hear hear for Lise Meitner!

  12. Sarah Michelle Schwartz

    She was still Jewish Judaism has nothing to do with what one believes or does even Orthodox Jews agree a Jew can be a religion hating atheist or an agnostic like Albert Einstein so long they have a Jewish mother they are Jewish just not very good ones.

  13. Jason Porath

    Respectfully, there is a difference between ethnicity and religion, which is muddied by the word “Jewish” being used for both.

    I generally would not recommend instructing a non-identifying Jew that they are still Jewish. It’s likely to bring about frustration on both sides. :)

  14. Jason Porath

    Meitner is on the list, for sure.

    As to your other points – when I get a sec, I’ll reword the entry to remove the ambiguousness that seems to be tripping up some very well-meaning (and often perhaps overly passionate) readers — I do not mean to say she should have been given the Nobel posthumously, merely that:

    a) she deserved some credit
    b) had she lived, she would have deserved to get it
    c) Watson (and, to a far lesser extent, Crick and Wilkins) disgracefully trod over her name after her death.

    Yes, she had befriended the Watsons and stayed with them in her declining years. She was also unaware that they had based their work off of hers. Watson did attend a lecture of hers where she described some of her up-and-coming findings, but I do not believe she showed Photo 51 at that time. Instead, the photo was given to him in relative secret by Wilkins, due in large part to Wilkins’ frustration with his working relationship. Viewing Photo 51 was a key puzzle piece to their discovery. Your assessment of their thanking her being an unnecessary nicety is a matter of personal opinion. Personally, I take it from an inverse point view — that is, not doing so (and then dragging her name through the mud) was a dick move.

  15. Jason Porath

    She’s on the list!

  16. Sarah Michelle Schwartz

    I know I am Jewish and agnostic myself so I feel the need to explain it is more complicated than that. Judaism has been described as a religion, a race, a culture, and a nation all of which are partly true.There is a connection between both ethnicity and faith because Halacha Jewish Religious Law says a child born to a Jewish mother or an adult who has converted to Judaism is considered a Jew. Even Einstein himself that had said that, “a Jew who sheds his faith along the way, or who even picks up a different one, is still a Jew”. I find it rude to call Meitzer a “Jewish Princess of extraction” when she is considered ethnically Jewish though she was not Jewish religiously. Her religious conversion does not mean she did so in an attempt to extract or forcefully remove her ‘Jewishness’ like she hated being Jewish. The only one who knows that for sure is Meitzer herself! It is also offensive to the Jewish people we are a family she is Jewish under Halacha and so she is considered a part of that family by many if not all Jews though the more religious may accuse her of self-loathing. Maybe she did hate being a Jew who knows she had always been a non-practicing Jew from what I researched I’m doing a report on her. If she was I wouldn’t blame her the time period not to mention location she was living in did not exactly make being a Jew very ‘fun’. If you want to know more about Judaism Judaism 101 is a pretty good site as well as the Jewish Virtual Library. http://www.jewfaq.org/whoisjew.htm https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/whojew1.html

  17. Jason Porath

    :) I’m also an agnostic Jew with many generations of rabbis on my dad’s side. But thank you for your passion and eloquence in defending your position. :)

  18. Adela

    She also invite her coworker to the funeral of his hypothesis

    expert Troll level 1000

  19. esmeralda

    we learned about her in my bio class she is awesome