Podcast: Twisted history—The true story of how the DNA double helix was discovered

, | May 1, 2020
Photo 51
Photo 51. Image: Raymond Gosling/King’s College London via Wikipedia
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

“History is written by the victors.” It’s a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill, and it’s certainly true of many discoveries in science, where being the first to publish a major finding is enough to secure your name in the history books (or at least in the science textbooks…)

The book, The Double Helix, is a dramatic tale of how American geneticist James Watson and British molecular biologist Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA back in the early 1950s. Of course, being written by Watson himself, it’s no surprise that he’s the dashing hero of the story.

Big names like Watson and Crick take much of the glory for the discovery of the structure of DNA, while others like Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and Ray Gosling are increasingly recognized for their contributions. But there are still many others whose work contributed to our understanding of the structure and function of DNA, such as Johannes Friedrich Miescher, Fred Griffith, Oswald Avery, Rudolf Signer and Elwyn Beighton.

Related article:  Testosterone levels can predict and treat diseases. But how do you determine your 'right level’?

In this episode of Genetics Unzipped, geneticist Kat Arney talks with Gareth Williams, professor emeritus at the University of Bristol and author of ‘Unravelling the Double Helix: The Lost Heroes of DNA‘, to explore some of the lesser-known stories and names behind the discovery of the structure and function of DNA. 

Full transcript, links and references available online at GeneticsUnzipped.com

Genetics Unzipped is the podcast from the UK Genetics Society, presented by award-winning science communicator and biologist Kat Arney and produced by First Create the Media.  Follow Kat on Twitter @Kat_Arney, Genetics Unzipped @geneticsunzip, and the Genetics Society at @GenSocUK

Listen to Genetics Unzipped on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) Google Play, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts

The GLP featured this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. The viewpoint is the author’s own. The GLP’s goal is to stimulate constructive discourse on challenging science issues.

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
sperm swim

Video: Sperm are ‘spinners not swimmers’—because they are lopsided

Research by fertility scientists in the UK and Mexico challenges the accepted view of how sperm “swim”, suggesting that it ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
breastfeeding bed x facebook x

Infographic: We know breastfeeding helps children. Now we know it helps mothers too

When a woman becomes pregnant, her risk of type 2 diabetes increases for the rest of her life, perhaps because ...
biotechnology worker x

Can GMOs rescue threatened plants and crops?

Some scientists and ecologists argue that humans are in the midst of an "extinction crisis" — the sixth wave of ...
food globe x

Are GMOs necessary to feed the world?

Experts estimate that agricultural production needs to roughly double in the coming decades. How can that be achieved? ...
eating gmo corn on the cob x

Are GMOs safe?

In 2015, 15 scientists and activists issued a statement, "No Scientific consensus on GMO safety," in the journal Environmental Sciences ...
Screen Shot at PM

Charles Benbrook: Agricultural economist and consultant for the organic industry and anti-biotechnology advocacy groups

Independent scientists rip Benbrook's co-authored commentary in New England Journal calling for reassessment of dangers of all GMO crops and herbicides ...
Screen Shot at PM

ETC Group: ‘Extreme’ biotechnology critic campaigns against synthetic biology and other forms of ‘extreme genetic engineering’

The ETC Group is an international environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Canada whose stated purpose is to monitor "the impact of emerging technologies and ...
Share via
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend