Although by then scientists understood that deoxyribonucleic acid was most likely the molecule of life, absolute certainty eluded them, because key components were still missing. Chiefly, they didn’t really know what the DNA molecule looked like.
Many, among them Linus Pauling, were actively engaged in DNA research and a number of structural theories were advanced, all of them wrong in varying degrees. When Watson and Crick finally solved the puzzle, the key was provided by an X-ray diffraction photograph of a DNA molecule — the so-called “photograph 51” — taken by another researcher, Rosalind Franklin.
For their work, Watson and Crick shared the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with another DNA researcher, Maurice Wilkins.
Rosalind Franklin received … nothing. She’d died of cancer in 1958, at age 37, and the Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously.