Today’s Google Doodle pays tribute to a game-changing scientist who was denied her rightful claim to fame until recent years. The biophysicist, who would have turned 93 today, played a key role in developing our modern understanding of DNA structure.
Franklin used x-rays to photograph DNA, and her image — Photo 51 — was used by James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins to crack the secrets of DNA’s double helix structure. Even though that picture was integral to the scientific breakthrough, only Watson, Crick and Wilkins are widely given credit for the finding that would open up new scientific fields including biotechnology and genome mapping. Franklin is often held up as the epitome of the the under-appreciated female scientist, held back by sexism.
Though the three men earned the Nobel Prize for their discovery in 1962, Franklin was not around to see if she would receive recognition. Nobel Prizes aren’t awarded posthumously, and she died in 1958 of ovarian cancer, at age 37.