Watson, Crick and DNA
In February, 1953, Francis Crick and James Watson claimed that they had found the secret of life, which was proofed to be true. In Feb, 28th that year, the scientist had figured out the structure of the DNA, which has the ability to unzip and make replica copies of itself thereby confirming doubts that Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) carries life hereditary information. It was until that generation of genetic engineering that this discovery was made. Their stories is characterized by hubris as depicted from their classic memoir which states that their research of the double helix had limitless ambition, intolerance with authority, and contempt for their opinion. Watson criticized some scientists not only for being narrow in their research but for stupidity. The joint research of the two scientists was inspirational as one of their colleagues commented that their resemblance in opinion was similar and produced high results (Watson, 2003).
In some perspective, the two scientists were an odd pair. Crick was British and at thirty five years yet he had not pursued a Ph.D., while Watson who was twelve years younger had earned a doctorate degree at twenty two years. They shared a strong desire to explore beyond boundaries. Crick, a Physics researcher had moved to Biology and Chemistry due to the interest to find out the mystery between the living and non living. Watson had studied Ornithology but took a different career while pursuing post doctoral studies in Europe. Apart from their scientific discovery, they had rendered a lot of effort and hypothesis in the search for the origin of life.
In a conference in Naples, Watson claimed that he had seen an unclear ghostly image of the DNA with assistance of the X-ray crystallography. Crick criticized the theme of Watson book, “The hot pursuit of Glory,” which was against Linus Pauling idea for what Nobel Prize for DNA would bring. They later resolved their differences and Crick was attracted to studying DNA while the two were studying at Cambridge University. The bonding of the two scientists and the vision of Watson at Naples conference was critical to the discovery of the DNA. Crick admits to Watson that it is the small doses of LSD that helped him unravel the mystery behind the structure of DNA and not the beer. These none scientific facts are also viewed to have played a big role in discovery of the DNA.
Rosalind Franklin was a British scientist who played a critical role in discovery and understanding of the structure of the DNA. Discovery of DNA was characterized by competition and maneuverings by several scientists including Watson, Crick, Maurice and Franklin. It was while they were working at Randall’s lab that she developed interest on DNA research when she differed with Maurice Wilkins. The two were working on projects related to DNA. Despite the negativity that women at that time received in the University dining rooms, Franklin persisted on her research project of the DNA. Her photographs of the DNA were regarded as the best by Bernal. By 1953, Franklin had nearly resolved the structure of the DNA but was beaten by Watson and Crick because of the differences between her and Wilkins. When Watson was showed a crystallographic picture of the DNA done by Franklin, he put it in an article on nature immediately. This shows that Franklin contributions to the study of the structure of the DNA were significant.
Discoveries made by Franklin were crucial for the success of Crick and Watson model of the DNA. At a lecture seminar in 1951, Franklin presented two forms of molecules, types A and B where phosphates units were located on the outer parts of the molecules. She stated the volume of water that was in the molecules corresponding to its structure and provided information that was necessary for stability of the molecule. She was the first scientist to gather this kind of information which was later used to attempt to make a model molecule.
Apart from this, she came up with an X-ray photograph of B-DNA that Wilkins showed Watson and MRC report that was presented which she had worked on with Raymond Gosling. This report was handed over to Francis Crick who was doing a research on the structure of haemoglobin. Crick and Watson used information from experiment done by Franklin to build a model of Deoxyribonucleic acid. From these facts, it is evident that the MRC report and the X-ray picture of Franklin contributed to the discovery of the structure of the DNA; hence, credit should be given to her (Bronowski, 2010).
From the analysis of the discovery of the DNA structure above, it is evident that scientists are increasingly keeping secrets at the expense of recognition and money. A few scientists feel free discussing their progressive research work with their colleagues doing similar work. Secrecy, majorly results from work being anticipated and manipulated by other competitors. However, secrecy in science has justification because it results from competition and the urge to be recognized. The completion and secrecy leads to recognition of efforts done by scientists, but, at the same time it generates negative effect of commercializing innovations in science.
Watson’s book “Molecular biology of the gene” has received numerous criticisms because Watson does not appreciate the work of Franklin and Gosling from which he extracted data that helped him build a model of DNA. He took advantage of the unpublished work of the MFC report that was showed to him by Dr. Perutz. I think the criticism labeled against him is genuine because he could have done well if he could have appreciated the work of Franklin that helped him discover the structure of the DNA.
For a scientific research to reach experimental stage and goals more effectively it has to follow some steps and guidelines stated below: a statement of research of the objectives should be clearly and precisely stated, questions to be answered should be listed that relate to the objective of the research, literature review should be done to know what others have done regarding the research, what kind of information is necessary to answer your listed questions, what method would you use to collect information for your research, take information or data in a proper way for a specified analysis, analyze and represent the results clearly, then draw logical and scientific conclusions from the results of your research and finally, draw a comparison of your findings and research work done by others in the same field. When these steps are followed, scientific and theoretical aspects of a scientific research would be realized.
According to me, the most important aspects of a scientific research ought to bring out the aspect of creativity and originality. To achieve the objective of creativity and originality, the following aspects have to be considered: whether the research topic is realistic, is the research something that can be done, whether the research question is of interest to you, whether an experiment information gathering can be done, and whether there are enough resources and time to complete the research. These aspects together with proper organization that has earlier been discussed can lead to creative and original results. In my opinion, Watson’s account of research is unfair to some extent because of the failure to appreciate the work of Franklin which enabled him analyze the structure of the DNA. On the contrary, Franklin could have taken the initiative of sharing information she had gotten with other researchers.