I discovered that Rosalind Franklin and Raymond Gosling were working together on the
structure of DNA, but not in collaboration with Wilkins. Moreover, they had the best
DNA preparation. This was a preparation of calf thymus NaDNA that had been given to
Wilkins some two years earlier by Rudolf Signer, of Bern, and from gels of which material
Wilkins was able to draw thin, uniform fibres showing sharp extinction between crossed
polarizers. Gosling and Wilkins had obtained X-ray diffraction photographs from these
fibres indicating a high degree of crystallinity, and were a great improvement on
those obtained earlier by W. T. Astbury and Florence Bell in their pioneering studies
of DNA. They achieved this by passing hydrogen through water and then into the X-ray
camera so that the fibres were kept in a moist atmosphere during the exposure.
Hugh Wilson. H. R. Wilson, "The double helix and all that," Reflections on biochemistry, TIBS 13. July 1988.
Back to Quotes Index.