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One was that the phosphate backbone was on the outside with bases on the inside; another that the molecule was a double helix.
Nine years later, in 1962, they shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Maurice Wilkins, for solving one of the most important of all biological riddles.
Half a century later, important new implications of this contribution to science are still coming to light.
During cell division, the DNA molecule is able to "unzip" into two pieces.
One new molecule is formed from each half-ladder, and due to the specific pairing this gives rise to two identical daughter copies from each parent molecule.
Other scientists used experimental methods instead. Among them were Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, who were using X-ray diffraction to understand the physical structure of the DNA molecule.
When you shine X-rays on any kind of crystal – and some biological molecules, such as DNA, can form crystals if treated in certain ways – the invisible rays bounce off the sample.In early 1953 he had published a paper where he proposed a triple-helical structure for DNA.Watson and Crick had also previously worked out a three-helical model, in 1951. Their mistake was partly based on Watson having misremembered a talk by Rosalind Franklin where she reported that she had established the water content of DNA by using X-ray crystallographic methods.The rays then create complex patterns on photographic film.By looking at the patterns, it is possible to figure out important clues about the structures that make up the crystal.The scientist Linus Pauling was eager to solve the mystery of the shape of DNA.In 1954 he became a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry for his ground-breaking work on chemical bonds and the structure of molecules and crystals.The work of many scientists paved the way for the exploration of DNA.Way back in 1868, almost a century before the Nobel Prize was awarded to Watson, Crick and Wilkins, a young Swiss physician named Friedrich Miescher, isolated something no one had ever seen before from the nuclei of cells.In 1949 he showed that even though different organisms have different amounts of DNA, the amount of adenine always equals the amount of thymine. For example, human DNA contains about 30 percent each of adenine and thymine, and 20 percent each of guanine and cytosine.With this information at hand Watson was able to figure out the pairing rules.