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Published on Mar 21, 2013
The discovery of double-helix structure of DNA is to science what Mona Lisa is to painting. It has been called the single biggest discovery of all times. But it was not just stumbled upon - it was a race.
Specifically, it was a race between two teams of young scientists working in Britain. Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins were trying to identify the structure by studying X-ray diffractions of the DNA molecule. But Jim Watson and Francis Crick studied a little bit of everything -- including, to the consternation of some, the work of their competitors. A few have gone so far as to accuse Watson of stealing Franklin's X-ray work.
In any case, Waston and Crick's inquisitive working style ultimately allowed them to determine the DNA structure first, in 1953 -- an achievement that led to their Nobel Prize in 1962. Meanwhile, Franklin passed away in 1958 from cancer.