Taken in 1952, this photo is the very first X-ray snapshot of DNA, which led to the exploration of the molecular structure by Watson and also Crick. Produced by Rosalind Franklin using a technique called X-ray crystallography, it revealed the helical shape of the DNA molecule. Watson and Crick realized the DNA was made up of two chains the nucleotide pairs that encode the hereditary information for all living things.

You are watching: In the 1950s what discovery revolutionized biotechnology

Credits: photograph of Rosalind Franklin courtesy the Vittorio Luzzati. Photograph of x-ray crystallography (Exposure 51) courtesy the King"s university Archives. King"s college London.

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Topics Covered: Evolution since Darwin


The discovery of DNA"s Structure:

They to be hardly modest, these 2 brash young researchers who in 1953 declared to patrons the the Eagle Pub in Cambridge, England, the they had "found the an enig of life." but James Watson and also Francis Crick"s case was a valid one, for they had in fact found the framework of DNA, the chemical that encodes instructions because that building and replicating nearly all living things. The stunning uncover made feasible the era the "new biology" that led to the biotechnology industry and, most recently, the deciphering of the human hereditary blueprint.Watson and Crick"s discovery didn"t come the end of the blue. As early on as 1943 Oswald Avery showed what had actually been suspected: that DNA, a main point acid, carries genetic information. However no one knew how it worked.By the early 1950s, at least two teams were hot on the trail. Crick, a british graduate student, and also Watson, an American research fellow, to be in the hunt in ~ Cambridge University. At King"s college in London, Rosalind Franklin and also Maurice Wilkins were examining DNA. Wilkins and Franklin provided X-ray diffraction as their main tool -- beaming X-rays v the molecule succumbed a shadow snapshot of the molecule"s structure, by how the X-rays bounced off its ingredient parts.Franklin, a shy and inward young woman, endured from patronizing attitudes and sexism that forced her come do much of her occupational alone. And also her an elderly partner, Wilkins, verified some of Franklin"s result to Watson in January 1953 without she knowledge. Introduce to Franklin"s X-ray photo known together "Exposure 51," James Watson is report to have actually said, "The instant I observed the picture, my mouth dropped open and my pulse began to race." soon after, Watson and Crick made a vital advance when they proposed the the DNA molecule was consisted of of two chains that nucleotides combine in together a method to kind a dual helix, like a spiral staircase. This structure, announced in your famous paper in the April 1953 concern of Nature, described how the DNA molecule can replicate itself during cell division, permitting organisms come reproduce themselves with exceptional accuracy except for sometimes mutations.For their work, Watson, Crick, and Wilkins received the Nobel prize in 1962. In spite of her donation to the discovery of DNA"s helical structure, Rosalind Franklin was not named a compensation winner: She had died of cancer 4 years earlier, in ~ the age of 37.

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