With the question »What connects us?« artistic director Jochen Sandig invites us to take a look at the image of the first image of human DNA. In the 1950s, the X-ray image provided the decisive clue to the structure of human DNA. The image, which went down in history under the name »Photo 51«, solved a mystery burning under the nails of science. In the words of our director, the x-shaped cross »allows us to look directly at the mystery of the diversity of human life«. The helix-shaped architecture of the human genome could thus be modelled from the visual impression.
The picture was taken by the British biochemist Rosalind Franklin, a brilliant researcher who made a name for herself primarily in virus research. However, fate was not always kind to her: not only did she die of cancer in 1958 at the age of just 37, but the Nobel Prize for the discovery of DNA structure was also awarded to her colleagues James Watson and Francis Crick a few years after she died in 1962. The fact that the gentlemen would only have got there with the essential calculations and measurements of their colleague remained uncomplemented. But this fact was certainly of interest to both of them. Why? On their way to fame, the men had enriched themselves with Franklin's research and even stole the recording and current measurements.
You can find out more about this explosive story in the following formats:
Kalenderblatt Deutschlandfunk (duration approx. 5 minutes)
Podcast from Die Zeit Verbrechen: A Betrayed Woman (duration approx. 1 hour)
English documentary film (duration approx. 1 hour)
As an essential element of our existence, DNA fundamentally connects us humans. But the rules we organise our everyday life are in our own hands. This is where we link the thematic focus of the 2024 Schlossfestspiele: (co)humanity and democracy. Look at the first eight events in the programme and our subscriptions.
Image © © Photo 51, King’s College London Archives