1/2- Ms. Baker
The Double Helix
Watson began to form interest in the structure of DNA after coming across Maurice Wilkins X-ray diffraction picture. Watson thought that if the structure was founded then genes would better be understood after finding out those genes could crystallize. Along with Crick, Watson traveled to Oxford to overhear Franklin’s talk on x-ray pictures she had come across and formulated that a 3-chain helix fit seemed reasonable. More research came through when Austrian chemist Erwin Chagraff identified DNA to have purine and pyrimidine bases. Peter Pauling described a 3 chain helix with a sugar phosphate background at the center and also figured out that protein folding had alpha-helices. Watson did not agree with one of Pauling’s finding and was determined to find a 2 chain helix instead and study the chemistry of bases. Franklin found out that DNA contained water which led to ...view middle of the document...
Pauling discovered protein folding with model buildings of paper and wire creating the polypeptide chains in amino acids and twisting them into several shapes until one came close to an x-ray pattern. Watson chose to follow Pauling’s way of model building instead of experimentation to figure out the structure. Another way of experimentation could be the x-ray pictures given crystallization which gave the scientists a background to start of with and compare findings to what was shown in the pictures.
The scientists included in the novel are James Watson, co- founder of the structure of DNA in 1953 along with Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, the crystallographer who captured the first high resolution x-ray of DNA fiber laying the background for the discovery. Wilkins had an assistant Rosalind Franklin who also helped contribute to the DNA X-ray diffraction images. The Nobel Peace Prize in Physiology or Medicine of 1962 was awarded to Wilkins, Crick and Watson for “their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.” Others included were Max Perutz who founded the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology where the experimentation took place and Linus Pauling who was at the time also working on the structure of DNA
"The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1962 Francis Crick, James Watson, Maurice Wilkins." Nobel Prize: The Official Website of the Nobel Peace Prize. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Sep 2012. <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1962/>.
What I have gained from reading this novel by Watson is that I am now getting a better understanding of how the structure of DNA was founded. So far I’ve read up to page 80 chapter 16 and am interested to finish the novel to see how after all the debacles between the scientists, DNA was finally said to have a double helix structure. This book is fairly easy to comprehend the way it is told from Watson’s perspective and enjoy. I like how Watson incorporates his flaws and mistakes and how open he is about it letting reader know. Plus, since we recently studied biochemistry I understand the terminology when it describes alpha-helix, phosphate groups, nitrogenous bases and ect. (: