Happy Birthday to a pioneer of life science, Rosalind Franklin, born on this day in 1920. Franklin is known for her pioneering and groudbreaking work in x-ray crystallography, a technique used for discovering deep structure in crystal and organic matter that led to the discovery of the structure of DNA. X-ray crystallography was first proposed around 1912 by Paul Peter Ewald and Max von Laue in the in Munich and developed over next decade. Von Laue developed a law that connects the scattering angles and the size and orientation of the unit-cell spacings in the crystal, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1914. Images made by Franklin in May 1952 were the images used a year later by Watson and Crick for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962, four years after Franklin’s death at the age of 37.
The word crystallography was coined in 1802 to describe the new science coming with the discovery of deep structure of crystals by French minerologist René Just Haüy ( 28 February 1743 in Saint-Just-en-Chaussée (Oise) – 3 June 1822 in Paris). The word combines the word crystal which had been in use in English (and other European languages) since around the 15th century, from Old English cristal meaning clear ice or mineral, from the Old French word cristal (circa 12th century), which ultimately derived from the Latin crystallus meaning crystal or ice, itself derived from the Ancient Greek word krystallos, from kryos meaning frost. The suffix -graphy is common in science, from the Ancient Greek -graphia meaning a description of something, from the verb graphein meaning to write or to express with written characters. The Proto Indo-European root *gerbh- meant to scratch or carve.