Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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 Chemistry.

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