“We have also been stimulated by a knowledge of the general
nature of the unpublished experimental results and ideas of Dr. M. H.
Wilkins, Dr. R. E. Franklin and their co-workers at King’s College,
Science historian Lynne Elkin calls this sentence an understatement.
She argues that Watson and Crick were "more than stimulated"
by Franklin’s work—and had "more than a general knowledge"
of it—because they relied on her X-ray
photograph and her specific DNA measurements.
Interestingly, this sentence contained a stronger acknowledgment of Franklin’s
work in an early
draft of the paper: "We have also been stimulated by the very
beautiful experimental work of Dr. M. H. Wilkins and his co-workers at
Kings College, London." Elkin suggests that the phrase "very
beautiful" is most likely a nod to Franklin’s X-ray photograph.
The same draft also acknowledged Franklin’s work with the sentence:
"It is known that there is much unpublished experimental material."
When Maurice Wilkins read the draft, he advised Watson and Crick to delete
this sentence and the phrase "very beautiful." They agreed to