Make your own free website on

The Science in
The Double Helix

This page gives a small summary of the science that was described by the scientists in The Double Helix!

This book is non-fiction and is an actual account of James Watson, one of the people who discovered the structure to DNA. He, along with Francis Crick used their knowledge of chemistry, physics, and X-ray crystallography, along with a lot of experimentation and trial error to achieve their end result.

They compiled a lot of information that they had gathered from fellow scientists, that they had read in papers, and that they just believed to be true. They also often stayed up late at night and just wondered what the answer could possibly be.

It was interesting to see how they narrowed it down to finally find the double helix that really is the structure of DNA. There is no doubt that the two most important tools they had access to were X-ray photographs and 3-D models. They used the X-ray photographs to try to get some kind of clue as to what shape the structure of DNA was, including how many helices there were and what the measures of the angles of the nucleotides were. It was a very useful tool.

The models that they built typically came after much pondering over the X-ray photographs. They would get the best idea they could extract from the photographs and try to build it in 3-D. This was extremely effective in testing their hypotheses because it would often become apparent relatively quickly if the structure was stable or physically possible at all.

Franklin's Famous X-ray

This is Rosalind Franklin's Famous X-ray that provided enough evidence to establish that DNA was a helix.

Back to Home Page