MAURICE HUGH FREDERICK WILKINS PASSED SHORTLY AFTER FRANCIS CRICK
Maurice Wilkins died last Wednesday, 70 days after Francis Crick’s passing.
Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins, who shared a Nobel Prizes with James Watson and Francis Crick for one of the most celebrated discoveries of the last century, was 87. He pioneered a technique called X-ray fibre diffraction, which can reveal the molecular structure of biological material such as collagen or DNA. Previously, X-ray images could only be derived from crystals, which excluded many large biological molecules that prefer to form strands. Wilkins’ research provided the proof that Watson & Crick needed to back up their theory about DNA’s structure.
The Third Man of the Double Helix, as his autobiography published last year billed him, worked on the DNA project with Rosalind Franklin -nicknamed “the dark lady of DNA”- the scientist who took the X-ray photograph that gave Watson and Crick their celebrated eureka moment.
Wilkins, born in Pongaroa, New Zealand, was still a staff member of the King’s College in London where he had worked since 1946.