ToK: Structure of DNA

The story of the elucidation of the structure of DNA illustrates that

cooperation and collaboration among scientists exists alongside competition

between research groups. To what extent is research in secret ‘anti-scientific’?

What is the relationship between shared and personal knowledge in the

natural sciences?

2 comments on “ToK: Structure of DNA

  1. Research in secret is ‘anti-scientific’ as it prevents knowledge from being passed on with efficacy. It serves as hindrance to discovery. The cooperation and different perspectives that innovation requires from humans is difficult to achieve with secrecy in the way.
    Personal knowledge in natural science can sometimes be lacking and thus needs to be passed on to be expanded or to be made more reliable. Shared knowledge is more reliable and valid than personal knowledge as it is well-tested and certified by individuals of different backgrounds.

  2. Ever since mankind inhabited Earth, we have been competing and occasional collaborating with each other for survival. Cave men, businesses and even animals cooperate or compete. On the other hand, in science, there is a confusion between deciding to work in a team, competiting with other scientists or even keeping findings secret. It is critical to understand that working in secrecy offers both advantages and advantages to our knowledge of science.

    Jsort, one of the world’s largest documenting organisations, has maintained a public domain containing research published by scientists (in all fields) over the past several centuries. Jsort has witnessed the immense benefit of offering research papers to the public, therefore, these documents can be accessed by any member of the community.

    Furthermore, one of the main advantages of collaborating with other scientists and sharing results or discoveries is the ability to brainstorm together, suggest possible areas to explore and enables the scientists to obtain results much quicker. For instance, the perfect example of scientists cooperating together over decades is portrayed by the elucidation of DNA. Even though the structure of DNA was firmly determined in the early 20th century, the first sighting of DNA began in the 1860s. A young German scientist, Fredrick Muhner, noticed a “nuclein” while studying cells.The discovery of this “nuclein” was noted in his journal and shared with one of his colleagues who suggested that he further investigates the role of the “nuclein” in heredity. Unfortunately, Muhner was unable to complete his investigation as he passed away. However, approximately 70 years later, the structure of DNA was clearly understood. Another perfect example of the importance of collaborating with other scientists and not making data private is demonstrated by the determination of the atomic model.

    Nevertheless, many scientists have chosen to keep findings private. The main motive behind this decision is that once data is made available to many other people ( a couple of scientists or the public), the data loses value; scientists are less motivated to further investigate this topic. Also, some scientific discoveries, such as: the creation of atomic bombs using nuclear fusion, should have never been made available to the public as this lead to the widespread use of atomic bombs- a weapon of mass destruction.

    In conclusion, the scientist should recall all the benefits and disadvantages of making data available to the public. However, most of the time, working privately or secretly tends to be “anti-scientific” as it reduces the community’s knowledge and prevents greater discoveries from being made. Imagine where we’d be if Fredrick Muhner did not publish his findings and share with his colleagues?

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