Double helix discovered.
In 1953, the discovery of DNA's structure topped Science News
Letter's top 10 stories of the year, beating out the polio vaccine
and the "successful climbing of Mt. Everest." The finding was
not an instant hit, though; the initial April report in Nature of
DNA's double helix drew little notice from reporters. Perhaps it
didn't help that the research paper began with one of
science's most famous understatements: "This structure has
novel features which are of considerable biological interest."
Science News Letter announced the discovery on December 19, just in time
to make the news of the year. The article added its own understatement,
noting that the structure "is creating about as much interest and
hopeful speculation in chemistry and biology as anything that has
happened in many months" (12/19/53, p. 387). Watson and Crick won a
Nobel Prize in 1962 with Maurice Wilkins for their work, which helped
lay the foundation for molecular biology and the manipulation of genes.