Propeller life

Propeller life

The greatest scientific discovery of the twentieth century.

One day in February of 1953, two scientists working at Cambridge University – one British, the other American – entered triumphant into a place called “Eagle”, saying it had discovered the “secret of life”. News seemed too large to be announced at the bodega, but it was university life at Cambridge in the 50s, and those present were all scientists who understand the importance of such news. The news was indeed extraordinary: Francis Crick and James Watson discovered the structure of DNA molecule – the famous “double helix” – achievement regarded as one of the most important scientific victories of all time.

Propeller life



So we became familiar image of the DNA double helix – represented on the covers of biology textbooks at school and covers almost all the books is about genetics – that it seems a thing known as the world. But it’s only been 60 years – this year marks – since this scientific mystery has been solved – the structure of the DNA molecule – a long time a sort of “holy grail” of research of biochemistry.

A long scientific controversy, a battle of ideas for years preceding the discovery of this embodiment, and the success was built, step by step, the prior knowledge of chemistry, biology and physics, through errors, disputes, disappointments to reach Finally, the apotheosis: moment of glory when Francis Crick and James Watson and realized that her image model meets all requirements and can be considered as an accurate, truthful, structure of nucleic acids. The year was 1953.

Of course, these two are not the only ones who have toiled to achieve this success. These two are the ones putting together the information obtained so far through their own research, plus data from the decades of study, scientists from the two continents were brilliant intuition of how these data are combined to create the correct model. It would be many who, without necessarily looking to learn the structure of DNA contributed by their studies of chemistry, biology and physics, the basic data gathering. Others have been trying to find that even the DNA and models have been proposed, but they have proved erroneous. Just write the history of science.

However, in addition to James Watson and Francis Crick, who conducted the research at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, who contributed most to success through their research, Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind were Franklin, who worked, the period at King’s College London. These four scholars are those who are due in the most part, the merit of being unraveled the mystery of biology. Moreover, Maurice Wilkins to Crick and Watson shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine / Physiology, awarded in 1962 for this discovery. Rosalind Franklin, who contributed to the success, not part of the winners in a simple and tragic reason he died before the award in 1958 at the age of 37, as a result of cancer.


Of the four major scientists involved in discovering the structure of DNA, James Watson is just daily life. Has 84 years. After the discovery of the structure of nucleic acids, returned to the USA and worked in several institutions dealing with research in the field of genetics, which opened at the age of 25 years or a road so full of promise. Among other things, led for two years, the Human Genome Project, is the second person who has been completely sequenced genome. It is one of the deans of molecular genetics and likely genetic handled more than any other scientist working in this field today.

Many of the details of the history of the discovery of the double helix anecdotal (and he launched this term to describe the structure of DNA) are known from the book written by him and published in 1968: The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA (published in our 1970 title propeller life), a personal story – of course, subjective, but no less important – the sequence of events that led to the discovery of DNA structure and context in which it occurred. Life in Cambridge academic concerns – personal and professional – of scientists who worked there, and the battle of ideas between those involved in deciphering the structure of DNA are captured alive and often funny, though the book was and criticized for some accents discriminatory – especially at Rosalind Franklin’s – as an expression of sexism that prevailed at the time the Anglo-Saxon academia.