2015 Geek-A-Long: Rosalind Franklin

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Rosalind Franklin is one cool chick.

Chances are, when you think about DNA, you think about Watson and Crick. Don’t get me wrong, they are a part of the story, but the real science hero here is Rosalind Franklin. Born and educated in England, Rosalind excelled at everything she did: Sports, school, throwing shade. There was nothing this girl couldn’t do. She earned her PhD at the tender age of 25 and in 1947 she jetted off to Paris to study X-Ray Crystalography. Rosalind Franklin independently hypothesized the structure of DNA and was instrumental in informing the work that other scientists took credit for. *cough* WatsonAndCrick *cough*


Franklin is a four letter word in our family. We get super fired when we talk about her, and that fact prompted a long discussion about whether we could write this post without breaking the “no negativity” rule. Because guys, seriously, it’s insane how much she was robbed at the end of her life. A male colleague of Franklin’s showed HER work to Crick, which helped them form theories she already had, but they published first and only kind of acknowledged that she had anything to do with it.

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Though Watson and Crick ultimately credited her contributions, they weren’t publicizing it at the time. And the kicker? She died to bring us this research. All of her work with early X-Rays exposed her to so much radiation that she contracted Ovarian Cancer and died at only 37-years-old.

Oh, and wanna know what the bitterness-icing on this unfair-cake is? Watson and Crick won a Nobel Prize for their work, which was heavily influenced and informed by Franklin’s. It would be fair to say that without her work, theirs wouldn’t have existed. Rosalind Franklin was not nominated. Megan-Anne and a good friend of mine have spent some time in the Scientific Community and from the stories I’ve heard them tell, it still isn’t the easiest place to be a lady. To be fair, I hear it’s really hard to get your research done while crawling with icky girl cooties.

Anyhow, if Megan-Anne and I can educate even a few people about some of the amazing contributions that women scientists have made, we’ll consider it a win.

The inspiration for this square was the DNA Crystalograph X-Rays, taken by Rosalind Franklin, that proved the double helix and changed the way we look at DNA. Not included on this square, but definitely worth mentioning were Franklin’s work on the molecular makeup of viruses, including Polio. So if you don’t have polio, pour one out tonight for Rosalind Franklin. She deserves it.

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Whether you’re knitting, crocheting, or cross stitching this square, you can download the Rosalind Franklin pattern here. Instructions for both knit and crochet are listed in the pattern. When you’re finished making it, don’t forget to tweet or instagram your squares at me @jac_attacking or Megan-Anne @Doctor_Llama with the hashtag #geekalong!

If you’re having trouble with double-sided knitting, we have a how-to video here and a tutorial on crochet here. Want to hang out with other people making the blanket? You can find moral support in the Geek-A-Long group on Ravelry here.

~ Jac
“If I could get hit points for loading gels, I would KILL this.” Megan-Anne regarding a certain D&D game.

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