The Double Helix by James Watson is his personal reflection on discovering the structure of the DNA molecule. With contributions of other scientists, James Watson and Francis Crick were able to solve the structure of DNA. Through contributions and integral relationships of Watson and Crick to Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin, Linus Pauling, and other smaller contributors the DNA structure was finally solved.
The first and primary contribution to solving the DNA structure was the relationship of Crick and Watson. Without their teamwork and determination, another scientist would have discovered the structure before them. One of Crick’s bigger contributions was discovering the gene is self-replicating. After talking with John Griffith, Crick came up with the idea that the gene is self-replicating, meaning the gene has the ability “to be exactly copied when the chromosome number doubles during cell division”(126). With further discussion with Griffith, Francis believed that DNA replication involved specific attractive forces between the flat surfaces of the bases (128). One of Watson’s major contributions was after seeing the B form of DNA by Franklin, Watson knew that the structure of DNA was two-chained and that led to the building of the model of DNA (171). Also through research, Watson became aware that adenine and thymine pair together and are held by two hydrogen bonds that were identical in shape to the guanine and cytosine pair held together by at least two hydrogen bonds (194). This discovery showed that the two chains of DNA are complementary to each other. With these individual contributions coming together, Watson and Crick successfully were able to piece together the structure of DNA.
Linus Pauling was another individual that aided in solving the structure of DNA. Throughout the book, Watson and Crick were always against Pauling. There was a rivalry between these two groups. Pauling was known for solving the structure of proteins and coming up with the α- helix (35-36). Pauling was the first one to come up with a structure of DNA(156). Pauling came up with “a three-chain helix with sugar-phosphate backbone in the center” (159). Watson was able to deduce that Pauling’s structure would fall apart completely because it lacked hydrogen atoms. With the realization that Pauling was incorrect with his model of DNA, it allowed for Watson and Crick to identify the correct structure in hopes that they would beat him to the discovery.
Maurice Wilkins was another contributor to the discovery of the structure of DNA. Unlike Pauling, Watson and Crick had a friendly relationship with Wilkins. Throughout the book, Wilkins was rooting for the two to beat Pauling to the discovery. With Wilkins willingness in showing Watson and Crick the crystalline photographs, which with x-ray evidence led to the deduction of the 3-dimensional helical structure of DNA....