This Day in Science History - May 12 - Dorothy Hodgkin
May 12th is Dorothy Hodgkin's birthday. Hodgkin was the
British chemist who developed three dimensional x-ray crystallography.
X-ray crystallography involved growing a crystal of the sample you
wished to investigate, beaming x-rays through this sample, and recording
the diffraction pattern made by the atoms of the crystal. The pattern
would reveal the structure of the crystal's atoms in two dimensions.
Hodgkin aimed her x-rays through crystals at multiple angles and
compared the differences in diffraction patterns to find the three
dimensional structure. This technique showed atom positions, length of
chemical bonds and the relationships between individual molecules in the
crystals. She found the structures of penicillin and insulin, but the
structure of vitamin B12 would earn her the 1964 Nobel Prize in