Elwyn Beighton's 1951 photograph of DNA

Over a decade after Bell wrote her thesis, Astbury's lab produced another important photograph of DNA. This was taken by Elwyn Beighton. The central black cross pattern is a result of the helical shape of the DNA molecule and shows remarkable similarity to the photograph taken in the following year by Rosalind Franklin that would cause James Watson's jaw to drop and his pulse to race, as described in his book The Double Helix. At that time, very few people knew how to interpret the diffraction patterns given by helical structures and in 1951, no one at Leeds appreciated the significance of this picture. If they had, Leeds might have played a very different role in the DNA story.

Why then did Astbury not grasp the full significance of Beighton's photographs?

To explore this intriguing question further, click here...

Beighton's 1951 X-ray photograph of DNABeighton's 1951 X-ray photograph of DNA

Special Collections, Astbury papers, C7

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