Experiment in the Discovery of the Structure of DNA
Discovery is never an isolated breakthrough; as a rule, a scientist manages to make a discovery owing to the opportunity to work with the results of other researchers’ work. Thus, it is often quite difficult to evaluate who has made the most significant contribution to taking one more step forward.
The discovery of the DNA double helix structure is not an exception: it took place owing to the efforts of several scientists from different teams and even from different countries. James D. Watson describe this huge scientific work. Sometimes research results supplemented each other, sometimes there was a certain contradiction: in his book, Watson states that “science seldom proceeds in the straightforward logical manner imagined by outsiders.” Nevertheless, each researcher’s contribution helped the discovery to happen. At the same time, the study described in work is not the very first stage on the way to discovering the DNA structure; several significant stages were taken much earlier.
In Leslie A. Pray’s work, the first steps on the way to discovering the DNA structure are described. The researchers mentioned in the article are less famous than Watson; however, without their contribution, there probably would not be Watson’s discovery, or at least it would happen much later.
The first step in studying DNA was taken by Friedrich Miescher in 1869 (the scientist discovered “nuclein,” or nucleic acid), and I consider it really the most significant step. At least two reasons formulated by Pray support this statement. Firstly, the discovery had no background: it was really made “from scratch.” Secondly, this discovery was made almost accidentally: Miecscher planned to work on proteins but noticed something that caught his attention, which was a new, unknown substance. Thus, Miecsher’s discovery is of incredible importance: it is an illustration of how much a scientist’s devotion and inspiration mean. A good scientist is always plunged into his research and is ready to notice something valuable that may accidentally appear in his/her field of view. Without this, the nucleic acid could not be noticed for decades.
As for the study described in Watson’s book itself, I consider that the most significant stage is described in Chapters 1-4: it is the experiment with taking X-ray photos of DNA and further discussion made by Crick and Cochran. It gave the substantial fundament for further investigation and demonstrated that the study was progressing in the right direction.