Article ID: CBB001023996

William Astbury and the Biological Significance of Nucleic Acids, 1938--1951 (2011)


Hall, Kersten T. (Author)

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Volume: 42
Pages: 119--128

Publication Date: 2011
Edition Details: Part of a special issue, “When Physics Meets Biology”
Language: English

Famously, James Watson credited the discovery of the double-helical structure of DNA in 1953 to an X-ray diffraction photograph taken by Rosalind Franklin. Historians of molecular biology have long puzzled over a remarkably similar photograph taken two years earlier by the physicist and pioneer of protein structure William T. Astbury. They have suggested that Astbury's failure to capitalize on the photograph to solve DNA's structure was due either to his being too much of a physicist, with too little interest in or knowledge of biology, or to his being misled by an erroneous theoretical model of the gene. Drawing on previously unpublished archival sources, this paper offers a new analysis of Astbury's relationship to the problem of DNA's structure, emphasizing a previously overlooked element in Astbury's thinking: his concept of biological specificity.

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Article Poon, Wilson C. K. (2011) Interdisciplinary Reflections: The Case of Physics and Biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (p. 115). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Morange, Michel
García-Sancho, Miguel
Fabrizio Rufo
Trevor W. Hambley
Montoya, Guillermo
Yi, Doogab
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Journal of the History of Biology
Science in Context
Philosophy of Science
Perspectives on Science
Journal of Biosciences
Harvard University Press
Yale University Press
Palgrave Macmillan
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
University of Pittsburgh
Molecular biology
Freeman, Hans Charles
Richardson, Jane
Meselson, Matthew Stanley
Müller, Hermann Joseph
Stahl, Franklin W.
Sanger, Frederick
Time Periods
20th century
21st century
20th century, late
19th century
20th century, early
United States
California (U.S.)
Ghent University
University of Sydney
Institut Pasteur, Paris
California Institute of Technology

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