His Irish father was a doctor.
He worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos in New Mexico, where he stayed until
the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Wilkins and his graduate student Raymond Gosling obtained the first X-ray photographs
of DNA that showed that the long, thin molecule had a regular, crystalline form.
During the World War II he applied his expertise to the development of improved radar
The technology Wilkins developed is still used in modern radar.