At this point, the science of X-ray diffraction was still a relatively young one and the technology was still inaccessible to most of men, let alone a woman. “In the autumn of 1912… William Lawrence Bragg realized that X-rays could be used to detect the arrangement of individual atoms inside solid crystals” (Cambridgephysics, 2002, ¶1). This was the beginning of what is today known as x-ray diffraction, what would help Franklin find her niche in the world of science. When certain geometric requirements are met, X-rays scattered from a crystalline solid can constructively interfere. The result of this is a diffracted beam. Constructive interference occurs when two waves, in this case X-rays, collide and the wave-lengths are such that the peaks and valleys of both waves are identical causing surges on the peaks. When this happens, the beam of X-rays can stay intact and be diffracted at a different angle. These diffracted beams “have high energy and short wavelength and are able to pass through tissue. On their passage through the body, the denser tissues, such as the bones, will block more of the rays than will the less dense tissues, such as the lung” (Burnett, 2005, ¶2). This is why these denser tissues, such as bones, show up white in X-ray photographs. Needed to perform tasks such as these, were technologies like an X-ray machine and a diffractometer, which were in short-supply at the time, especially for women; but it was a combination of these two technologies and her acquired knowledge that led Dr. Rosalind Franklin to her most monumental breakthrough.

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Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.,“In 1951, she returned to England as a research associate in John Randall’s laboratory at King’s College, London” (Maisel, 1997, ¶3). It was here, over the course of the next few years, that Franklin would “leave her mark” on science. Between 1951 and 1953, Dr. Franklin became engulfed in her research. This dedication and scrutiny then lead her to make a huge discovery. “Rosalind learned many different techniques, and how to use them to extract DNA fibers and arrange them into bundles. She eventually, using this method, discovered the key to DNA structure” (Gribble, 2001, ¶3). Using her X-ray diffraction techniques, she photographed this structure and essentially captured the basis of human life. It was said by J.D. Bernal, a famous crystallographer of the time, that Rosy’s photographs were “the most beautiful X-ray photographs of any substance ever taken. (Maisel, 1997, ¶5) ” If this is truly the case, why have many people worldwide never heard of this scientific genius?