Oral history of British science

Wilkins, Maurice (11 of 12). National Life Stories: Leaders of National Life

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  • Subjects

    Biophysics; Molecular Biology

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  • Interviewees

    Wilkins, Maurice, 1916-2004 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Rose, Steven (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 11: Maurice Wilkins [MW] left DNA work and went on to helical ribonucleic acid [RNA] work which helped to confirm the DNA double helix; stayed on doing this work for some time. More discussion of his further work and more meetings and misunderstanding with Rosalind Franklin - and various other people when MW did related work. MW also mentions the difficulties women had working in the laboratory with men, and especially Rosalind Franklin's difficulties, and also his regrets about the row with Rosalind about the DNA work. MW mentions an award he got in San Francisco and the talk he gave for this occasion - first mentioning his concern for the uses made of scientific advances, and his involvement with the conference in chemical and biological warfare. In passing mentions "the Prize" which was the Nobel Prize (joint) for Medicine in 1962. MW played a part in opening up Porton research station. Later MW became president of the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science; talks about his involvement with that Society. Later changed his work over to X-ray diffraction and membrane structure. Talks about various scientific work done by different people in pre- and post-war times and his own thoughts and ideas in connection with it.

  • Description

    Joint Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 with Francis Harry Compton Crick and James Dewey Watson for their work and discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material; DNA structure, described as double helix.

  • Related transcripts

    Professor Maurice Wilkins interviewed by Steven Rose: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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