Franklin and her cousin volunteered as air-raid wardens during this time. Their jobs involved making sure the 'blackouts' were observed adequately, serving two-hour shifts at the wardens' post, and going out in emergency situations. These were quite trying experiences for Franklin, as Jenifer Glynn, Franklin's sister, explained in her memoir: "Crossing Putney Common for her duties, at night during air raids, was a worse ordeal for Rosalind that we realized at the time--sometimes in the distress of her last illness it haunted her dreams."
Franklin grew in prestige during her time working for BCURA. She worked on her research there for four years (ending in 1946).
BCURA did research in coal, relating to the war. Franklin's studies, in particular, focused on tiny pores in coal. Franklin's research was a huge contribution to the study of coals. For example, in a quote Glynn included in her memoir, Peter Harris wrote in reference to Franklin's work: "This was probably the first demonstration of molecular sieve behaviour in any carbon. Today , carbon molecular sieves are of great value in industry where, among other things, they are used to separate nitrogen from oxygen in air."*
Franklin's research at BCURA involving the properties of coal, which I will expand more upon in the next post, became her dissertation for her Ph.D. (which she received from Cambridge in 1945) as well as several published scientific journal articles.
* P. J. F. Harris (2001), 'Rosalind Franklin's work on coal, carbon and graphite', Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 26, 204-10
12/7/2021 07:50:31 am
12/7/2021 08:17:41 am
It's really cool to see some of her earlier work before her work on the structure of DNA, as I'd never looked into it.
12/7/2021 08:44:13 am
This was a very interesting read! I never knew her background, and I especially didn't knew that she had any connection to coal research or that she used to be an air-raid warden.
12/7/2021 12:38:58 pm
See, it never occurred to me that I'd end up investigating modern applications of research into "molecular coal sieves," but here we are. This was really interesting; I genuinely learned a lot. I will say, the name and banner of the site does not stop bugging me -- it looks like she was some sort of famous serial killer when you put that picture next to "remember what she did." The website title is rememberfranklin so maybe the banner could say "Remembering Rosalind Franklin" or something like that? Anyway, that's just a suggestion. This post was great!
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Loren Sinclair is a high school student interested in chemistry, art, computer science, theater, and everything else! They are writing this blog to tell Rosalind Franklin's often untold tale, from her life story to the science behind her work.