• Question: What has been the hardest part of your work so far?

    Asked by Ella to Thomas Telford, Stephen Hawking, Rosalind Franklin, Peter Medawar, Nicholas Shackleton, Mary Somerville, Mary Anning, John Snow, G. H. Hardy, Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, Frederick Sanger, Francis Crick, Elizabeth GarrettAnderson, Edwards and Steptoe, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, Beatrice Shilling, Aneurin Bevan, Alan Turing, Ada Lovelace on 21 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: Rosalind Franklin

      Rosalind Franklin answered on 21 Nov 2018:


      To be honest, I think the hardest part was seeing Crick and Watson get the credit for deciphering the structure of DNA, when it was based largely on my work. I think that if Maurice Wilkins (my colleague at King’s College, but a man I did not get on with) had not shown them the photograph, I might have been the first person to come up with that structure. I will admit that it would have taken me a bit longer, because I am naturally cautious and I wasn’t convinced that photograph 51 by itself was sufficient to prove a helical structure, but I had the necessary data.

      The other “hardest part”, though of a much more positive kind, was setting up my group at Birkbeck, after I left King’s. We were all spread out over five floors in an old building that really wasn’t very well suited for modern laboratory work. But it was the first time that I’d had my own group and I made it work. We did important work there on the structure of RNA – the “other” nucleic acid, which translates DNA genes into proteins (though we didn’t know that then, we just knew it was important) – and on viruses. I was very proud of that group.

    • Photo: Ada Lovelace

      Ada Lovelace answered on 21 Nov 2018:


      Not the science, but getting sponsorship to build my great machine. this of course never happended

    • Photo: Mary Somerville

      Mary Somerville answered on 21 Nov 2018:


      I found a lot of work challenging, but actually, one of my last books was called “Connextions”, I spent a long time trying to show how all the stars in heaven, the seasons, movements around the Earth, plants and animals are all connected. It took such a long time and I think perhaps I may have been better sticking to astronomy, I’m much better at maths than all the joint sciences. That said, the word “scientist” was created to describe me, based on that work and it went on to influence a lot of people, like Charles Darwin, around 50 years later.

    • Photo: Thomas Telford

      Thomas Telford answered on 21 Nov 2018:


      Well in my day, Civil Engineering was still in its infancy so we were often pioneers and occaisonally things went wrong. This could have fatal consequences to the people building the bridges or digging the tunnels. In fact my friend Brunel was sick for 6 months after his Thames Tunnel collapsed

    • Photo: Francis Crick

      Francis Crick answered on 21 Nov 2018:


      The hardest part was I was always striving for advancements in research. Alot of work went into my many different types of research with sometimes not getting much results however in other cases we were successful in finding the answers to our research such as the co discover of the DNA structure. I also worked to build knowledge of how the brain works and consciousness.

    • Photo: Peter Medawar

      Peter Medawar answered on 22 Nov 2018:


      The hardest part was when I suffered a stroke during in lecture in 1969. It never stopped me working, but I was never the same again. It taught me a lot about how medicine works and who new discoveries are so important. Just a few years later, a new kind of medicine was available that could have prevented my stroke and allowed me to live a much more full life. But I didn’t let it get me down, instead it made me more committed to science than before!

    • Photo: Godfrey Harold Hardy

      Godfrey Harold Hardy answered on 22 Nov 2018:


      Giving lectures and picking up prizes – I have always been incredibly shy and hated it when many people looked at me.

    • Photo: Aneurin Bevan

      Aneurin Bevan answered on 26 Nov 2018:


      Although the idea of a Health Service was agreed upon after the second world war, how it was going to happen was more difficult. So for me the hardest part of my career was persuading those against my vision of the NHS that it was the best option and to get the National Health Service Acts through parliament.

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