Double Helix Model
Claudio Villa and Roger Lucke, 2003. Based on the original Crick and Watson model, 1953.
Cambridge, England. MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge
The double helix has become an icon of modern science and its understanding of inheritance. The creation of the model relied on powerful ways of imaging molecular structures. Scientific knowledge of the molecular structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and the subsequent sequencing of the human genome suggest new ways of seeing and thinking about who we are and where we come from.
DNA is the main constituent of chromosomes and the carrier of genetic information. Its structure and mechanism remained uncertain until 1953 when Cambridge scientists Francis Crick and James Watson announced the very first model of the double helix at the Cavendish Laboratory. The double helix structure suggested a possible mechanism for the copying of genetic information. Their work won them both a Nobel Prize in 1962. ‘It is the molecule that has the glamour, not the scientists’, stated Crick.
Models such as the double helix are not pictures of physical reality. Yet model-making is crucial for the biological understanding of the body at its many different levels. They are created through a combination of ingenious imagination and extensive scientific and technical expertise.