On The Shoulders of Giants

Watson and Crick, two names that have become synonymous with DNA and Genetics. Since the release of their short, ground-breaking paper on DNA structure they have been known as THE guys with regard to genetic information. The interesting thing, however, is that their work was merely an extension of the work performed by scientists before them. Thus is the nature of science. Much of the work done is science labs around the world is the continuation of work that has been previously conducted. This foundational truth of science, however, is often lost on students. As I've taught over the last 6 years, I've realized that most students believe that the great ideas in science just appeared out of the blue. In many cases they did, but more often there was a grueling process of trial and error before that all important moment of discovery.

Last week we spent some time in AP Biology thinking about the experiments that preceded Watson and Crick's discovery of the molecular structure of DNA. In her role as weekly reporter, Mel Amador took a few minutes to reflect on that journey, and here's what she had to say.

Mel Writes:

This week in AP Biology was filled with the wondrous world of DNA. We discussed the scientist Frederick Griffith who began experiments that dealt with DNA and its proteins. He created an experiment using two strains of bacteria, one was harmful and the other was harmless. Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase were discussed and their methods for discovering that DNA was the passable information and not protein; using radioactive sulfur and radioactive phosphorous. We also went into specific detail into the scientists who discovered the molecular structure: James Watson and Francis Crick. We tied up all these scientists and their experiments with the fact that past experiments assist in scientific progress.


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