NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ926897
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 13
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
How Rosalind Franklin Discovered the Helical Structure of DNA: Experiments in Diffraction
Braun, Gregory; Tierney, Dennis; Schmitzer, Heidrun
Physics Teacher, v49 n3 p140-143 Mar 2011
Rosalind Franklin, a chemical physicist (1920-1958), used x-ray diffraction to determine the structure of DNA. What exactly could she read out from her x-ray pattern, shown in Fig. 1? In lecture notes dated November 1951, R. Franklin wrote the following: "The results suggest a helical structure (which must be very closely packed) containing 2, 3 or 4 co-axial nucleic acid chains per helical unit, and having the phosphate groups near the outside." This was 16 months before J. D. Watson and F. Crick published their description of DNA, which was based on R. Franklin's x-ray photos. How they gained access to her x-ray photos is a fascinating tale of clashing personalities and male chauvinism. (Contains 1 table and 5 figures.)
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A