Tag: crystallography

Long-Lost Letters From DNA Pioneers Reveal Conflicts and Tensions

By Jennifer Welsh | September 30, 2010 10:02 am

DNAAlmost 50 years after they won the Nobel Prize for defining the structure of DNA, Maurice Wilkins, James Watson, and Francis Crick are in the news again.

Nine boxes of “lost” correspondence (from the days before email!) between two competing groups of researchers have been unearthed. The letters, between Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin of King’s College and Watson and Crick at Cambridge University, provide insight into the researchers’ mindsets while they were making these historic, game-changing discoveries.

“The [letters] give us much more flavor and examples illuminating the characters and the relations between them,” said study researcher Alexander Gann, editorial director at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press in New York. “They’re consistent with what we already believed, but they add important details.” [MSNBC.com]

Gann and Jan Witkowski published a commentary on the new material in the September 30 issue of Nature. The letters highlight the different mentalities between the two groups as they approached the project: an attitude of spirited excitement on the side of the Cambridge clan, and an air of anxiety from Wilkins.

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