Templates from Crick and Watson's DNA molecular model, 1953.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
These aluminium templates are part of a model representing the structure of DNA. The plates represent bases, those groups of atoms that make up DNA's twin strands. The bases in each of the strands combines to spell out the organism's genetic code. DNA was discovered by Francis Crick (b 1916) and James Dewey Watson (b 1928) whilst working in the Medical Research Council Unit at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. In 1953 they constructed a molecular model of the complex genetic material deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Their analysis of the double helix shape of DNA explained how genetic information could be copied and pased from one generation to the next. They were awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine and physiology in 1962.