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"The DNA Story."

"The DNA Story." 1973.
Created by VSM Productions. Produced by Ronald Fouracre and Peter Shaw. Distributed by John Wiley & Sons, London, New York.

Initial Investigations by Maurice Wilkins. (2:12)


Narrator: Maurice Wilkins had worked as a physicist on the atom bomb during the war, and had turned in disgust on what he felt was the way science had been misapplied, to biology. With an interest in the gene kindled by reading a little book called What Is Life?, in which the theoretical physicist Erwin Schrödinger had speculated that the gene consists of a three-dimensional arrangement of atoms, he found himself at the Kings College, London, using x-ray diffraction to study the structure of DNA.

Maurice Wilkins: One of the reasons I think we got better diffraction results than Astbury, one of the main reasons, was that we had better DNA made by Signer in Switzerland. This sort of shows a basic principle here in scientific advance; that one was very dependent on all the essential work that was done by chemists and biochemists. The x-ray and model building work was a little sort of pinnacle, put on top of this wide and essential base.

Also an important factor was that I think we had a feeling of how to treat the molecule right; that, as Bernal had found with protein crystals, you needed to keep them in the aqueous environment. We also sort of lined the molecules up, especially parallel in fibers.

I was in Naples actually, because I wanted to get DNA in real cells - in the chromosomes, in the sperm heads of various creatures out of the Bay of Naples. At that time one had very little idea about whether the DNA which chemists produced bore any resemblance to the DNA in a chromosome in a cell. In fact, the x-ray diffraction results gave good evidence that it did.


Creator: Maurice Wilkins
Associated: Erwin Schrödinger, William Astbury, Rudolf Signer, J. D. Bernal
Clip ID: 1973v.3-wilkins

Full Work

Creator: VSM Productions, Ronald Fouracre, Peter Shaw
Associated: Linus Pauling, Francis Crick, James D. Watson, Maurice Wilkins

Date: 1973
Genre: video
ID: 1973v.3
Copyright: More Information

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