A review of Watson, James D. The Double Helix. New York: Atheneum, 1968.
James Watson's account of the events that led to the discovery of the
structure of deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA) is a very witty narrative, and
shines light on the nature of scientists. Watson describes the many key events
that led to the eventual discovery of the structure of DNA in a scientific
manner, while including many experiences in his life that happened at the same
time which really have no great significant impact on the discovery of the DNA
The Double Helix begins with a brief description of some of the
individuals that played a significant role in the discovery of DNA structure.
Francis Crick is the one individual that may have influenced Watson the most in
the discovery. Crick seemed to be a loud and out spoken man. He never was
afraid to express his opinion or suggestions to others. Watson appreciated
Crick for this outspoken nature, while others could not bear Crick because of
this nature. Maurice Wilkins was a much calmer and quieter man that worked in
London at King's College. Wilkins was the initial person that excited Watson on
DNA research. Wilkins had an assistant, Rosalind Franklin (also known as Rosy).
Initially, Wilkins thought that Rosy was supposed to be his assistant in
researching the structure of DNA because of her expertise in crystallography;
however, Rosy did not want to be thought of as anybody's assistant and let her
feelings be known to others. Throughout the book there is a drama between
Wilkins and Rosy, a drama for the struggle of power between the two.
Watson's "adventure" begins when he receives a grant to leave the United
States and go to Copenhagen to do his postdoctoral work with a biochemist named
Herman Kalckar. Watson found that studying biochemistry was not as exciting as
he hoped it would be; fortunately, he met up with Ole Maaloe, another scientist
doing research on... [continues]
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