Franklin v Hodgkin: Who was the greatest scientist?

Rosalind Franklin and Dorothy Hodgkin made important breakthroughs in science, including many discoveries that are vital to our lives today.

How did they do this? It was their ability to "think like scientists"...

Franklin v Hodgkin: A video about Rosalind Franklin and Dorothy Hodgkin. Who was the greatest scientist?


Rosalind Franklin was born in 1920 and worked mainly in London. Her achievements include:

  • Performing early X-ray analysis on the DNA molecule.

  • Determining the molecular structure of the polio virus.

  • Demonstrating that coal contains lots of tiny pores or holes.

Her work led to numerous breakthroughs. It allowed us to: determine the structure of DNA, vaccinate against the Polio virus, and use coal as a filter in gas masks during World War Two. These achievements have saved countless lives over the years!

Rosalind Franklin (1920 - 1958)


Dorothy Hodgkin also used X-ray crystallography in her work. Her discoveries include:

  • Figuring out how the atoms are joined together in the first modern antibiotic: penicillin.

  • Discovering the formula and investigating the structure of vitamin, B12. (It contains 181 atoms!)

  • Worked out the structure of another important molecule: insulin.

Hodgkin's work has also saved many lives. It has led to: the creation of new antibiotics, a greater understanding of nutrition, and a better understanding of the link between diabetes and insulin.

Dorothy Hodgkin (1910 - 1994)

Think like a scientist...

New scientific discoveries are made all the time. A discovery may start with a surprising observation or a scientific question. The scientist may then work alone or with others to create a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a possible explanation based on limited evidence.

The scientist will then test their hypothesis. They do this by carrying out an experiment (or making observations) to collect evidence. The scientist then analyses the evidence and uses it to come up with a conclusion.

The scientist will consider the strength of the conclusion and may then tell other scientists about their findings.

Franklin vs Hodgkin Quiz

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Where next?

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