Aaron Klug on Rosalind Franklin
  Aaron Klug     Biography    
Recorded: 17 Jun 2005

Well, she was an absolutely first class experimenter. She actually—she had energy and enthusiasm and tremendous skill and insight. What she didn’t have in a way that Crick and, say, Pauling had was a kind of imagination. If she had had the ____ she would have listened to Crick and said that when she got a certain phenomenon which was the double _____ she should have ignored it because it was an oddity. She actually thought it meant something much more than she did. She didn’t have enough imagination – I’ve written this – to see, to hear that what Francis was saying was the correct thing. Francis called her the more cautious type of person. But you know she wasn’t a Pauling or a Crick but she was a very powerful analyst. She wasn’t just a—when you do experiment you’re not just using your hand, you are using your mind all the time. She was absolutely first class. There’s no doubt that if Watson and Crick hadn’t intervened, she would have got the double helix on her own. It would have taken longer. It would have leaked out and so on. But people who get Nobel prizes aren’t necessarily the most imaginative of people. People who sometimes find a system, develop a system, do very useful work. So I don’t put her in the very top class, you know, using Pauling and Crick as examples. She was a lively person. She once said to me, what’s the use of doing all this work if we don’t get some fun out of this. She enjoyed doing what she did. She was very practical.

Oh, well, I mean she was quite opinionated. She could be quite sharp. Once we were—she had a student called Ken Holmes who is now at Heidelberg. He’s very distinguished. He works on muscle. So we had problems with x-ray sets. Practical problems. They were homemade sets, x-ray sets. We used to build them. So Ken Holmes said to her, really we should measure the vacuum. She said, you don’t want to make one; you just want to get one. So she was quite sharp. She was quite sharp and quick and decisive. That’s why she didn’t get on with Wilkins. Wilkins was a clever man, shrewd but slow. She was quick and decisive. It had nothing to do—she wouldn’t have got on with him if she had been a man. There’s nothing to do with the nonsense that’s written about women. So she snapped at him. After she died I measured a vacuum because I was wanted to find out where the leak was. So she was sometimes a bit too impulsive and too quick. She was a very fine scientist, top rank.

Aaron Klug is chemist and biophysicist and winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry. After completing his BSc at University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, he attended the University of Cape Town on scholarship where he received M.Sc. degree. In 1949 he moved to Cambridge in England, he studied molecular structure of steel and wrote a thesis on the changes that occur when molten steel solidifies, for which he earned Ph.D. in 1952.

In 1953 he obtained a fellowship to work at Birkbeck Collage in London, where he met Rosalind Franklin. They worked together to determine the structural nature of the tobacco mosaic virus. After Franklin's death in 1958 he continued his work on viruses together with Kenneth Holmes and John Finch. In 1962 he accepted a position at Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge.

His major contribution to scientific research was the development of crystallography electron microscopy for which he was awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1982. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1988.

More Information: Wikipedia, Nobelprize.org