"I gave Watson essentially the paper on nucleic acids, and after the 12th he showed
it. Morris [sic] Wilkins is supposed to be doing this work; Miss Franklin evidently
is a fool. Relations are now slightly strained due to the Watson-Crick entering the
field. They (W.C.) have some ideas and shall write you immediately. It is really up
to them and not to me to tell you about it. We tried to build your structure, and
succeeded, I think, it was pretty tight. Perhaps we should try the new one. They are
getting pretty involved with their own efforts, and losing objectivity."
Peter Pauling. Letter to Linus and Ava Helen Pauling. March 14, 1953.
"Most people believe that Wilkins could have done it, and they are sure that Pauling
could have done it before Watson and Crick, had he been given the data. It is interesting
that when Corey went to King's in 1952, Rosalind Franklin took him into a lab and
projected the DNA pictures, but Corey was a gentleman and did not attempt to convey
this information, or did not remember it precisely enough to give it to Pauling."
Robert Olby. Interview with Gerald James Holton. Plenary Sessions of the Conference on Transforming
Conceptions of Modern Science, Bellagio, Italy. September 1969.
"[Franklin] came very much closer to the discovery of the double helix than she has
usually been credited with doing."
Anne Sayre. Rosalind Franklin and DNA. 1975.
"In [The Double Helix, Watson] tells about how happy they were, he and Crick, that my husband was not allowed
to come because had he come, he would no doubt have seen these excellent photographs
that Rosalind Franklin made and had and which, when they saw them, with their other
data, they were able to work out the structure of DNA...[If] ever there was a woman
who was mistreated, it was Rosalind Franklin, and she didn't get the notice that she
should have gotten for her work on DNA."
Ava Helen Pauling. Interview with Lee Herzenberg. September 1977.
"Compared with all previous B patterns that Franklin had obtained, these two pictures
were vivid, No. 51 especially so. The overall pattern was a huge blurry diamond. The
top and bottom points of the diamond were capped by heavily exposed, dark arcs. From
the bull's-eye, a striking arrangement of short, horizontal smears stepped out along
the diagonals in the shape of an X or a maltese cross. The pattern shouted helix."
Horace Freeland Judson. The Eighth Day of Creation. 1979.
"Rosalind Franklin was a very intelligent woman, but she really had no reason for
believing that DNA was particularly important. She was trained in physical chemistry.
I don't think she'd ever spent any length of time with people who thought DNA was
important. And she certainly didn't talk to Maurice [Wilkins] or to John Randall,
then the professor at Kings."
James Watson. Nature, 302: 653. April 1983.
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.
"Constantly exposing your ideas to informed criticism is very important, and I would
venture to say that one reason both of our chief competitors failed to reach the Double
Helix before us was that each was effectively very isolated. Rosalind Franklin found
small talk awkward and until it was too late did not realize how much good advice
Francis would willingly have given her. Had she started to talk to him, Francis would
have led her to use her facts to find the base pairs. And then there's Linus Pauling.
Linus' fame had gotten himself into a position where everyone was afraid to disagree
with him. The only person he could freely talk to was his wife, who reinforced his
ego, which isn't what you need in this life."
James Watson. James Watson, "Succeeding in Science: Some Rules of Thumb", Science, 261, 24 (September 1993): 1812. September 1993.
"Let's just start with the Pauling thing. There's a myth which is, you know, that
Francis and I basically stole the structure from the people at King's. I was shown
Rosalind Franklin's x-ray photograph and, Whooo! that was a helix, and a month later
we had the structure, and Wilkins should never have shown me the thing. I didn't go
into the drawer and steal it, it was shown to me, and I was told the dimensions, a
repeat of 34 angstroms, so, you know, I knew roughly what it meant and, uh, but it
was that the Franklin photograph was the key event. It was, psychologically, it mobilised
James Watson. James Watson, Center for Genomic Research Inauguration, Harvard. September 30, 1999.
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