Rosalind Elsie Franklin was chemist and X-ray crystallographer whose work was central to the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA. This contribution went largely unrecognized during her life. The image in this pendant is known as Photo 51. It was taken by Franklin's student Raymond Gosling in 1952 and was shared by Maurice Wilkins without her knowledge with James Watson and Francis Crick.
The photograph provided Watson and Crick key information for developing a model of the structure of DNA. The diffraction pattern determined the helical nature of the double helix strands (antiparallel). The outside of the DNA chain has a backbone of alternating deoxyribose and phosphate moieties, and the base pairs, the order of which provides codes for protein building and thereby inheritance, are inside the helix. Watson and Crick's calculations from Gosling and Franklin's photography gave crucial parameters for the size and structure of the helix.
Photo 51 became a crucial data source that led to the development of the DNA model and confirmed the prior postulated double helical structure of DNA, which were presented in a series of three articles in the journal Nature in 1953.
In 1962 Wilkins, Watson, and Crick were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the DNA double helix. Rosalind had passed away in 1958 and although there was not yet a rule against posthumous Nobel awards, she was not nominated. Gosling's work was likewise uncited.
Fortunately we now know more about the history behind this enormously important scientific event and Rosalind Franklin's pioneering work has been honored all over the world. As a woman in science in the 1950's, Franklin faced significant challenges unknown to her male peers, yet she persevered and helped to lay the foundations of molecular biology.
This pendant seals Photo 51 under a glass dome, giving it a striking three-dimensional effect. The metal in the pendant is lead-free, nickel-free pewter that has been hand-weathered to looked like antique silver. It comes on your choice of steel chain, sterling silver chain, or adjustable leather cord.
- Biologists and researchers
- Medical and pre-med students
- Biology teachers
- Science lovers of all kinds