Francis Crick
March 4, 2005 4:54 AM   Subscribe

The papers of Francis Crick have been published online by the National Library of Medicine. The highlight of the collection is undoubtedly Crick's original sketch of the structure of DNA, but there are plenty of other fascinating items, including Crick's hostile comments on the manuscript of James Watson's book The Double Helix. (He later wrote to Watson that "if I had known you were going to write the sort of book you have written, I would never have collaborated with you".) For those who don't have time to browse the whole collection, images of selected highlights can also be found here, on the website of the Wellcome Trust, which bought the papers for $2.4 million in order to keep them in the public domain.
posted by verstegan (9 comments total)
Wow, these are fascinating. Thanks!
posted by teleskiving at 6:52 AM on March 4, 2005

When I read "The Double Helix", my immediate reaction was astonishment at exactly how big of an asshole Watson clearly was. Among other things, his treatment of Rosalind Franklin in the book is unforgiveable. At least it made me find out more about her, though, and I've since become convinced that she should have shared the Nobel Prize with them.
posted by kyrademon at 9:18 AM on March 4, 2005

kyrademon writes "I've since become convinced that she should have shared the Nobel Prize with them."

But the Nobel isn't given to dead people. Were it, the awards might have been substantially different.
posted by orthogonality at 10:54 AM on March 4, 2005

A quick note about the Nobel. It is NEVER awarded posthumously. No matter what. By the time the Nobel was awarded (1962)away Franklin had passed away. It is pretty much a given she would have shared in the prize. The actual list of winners was more than Crick and Watson. It was Crick, Francis Harry Compton; Watson, James Dewey; Wilkins, Maurice Hugh Frederick.
Franklin would have been on the list.
posted by edgeways at 10:55 AM on March 4, 2005

It is pretty clear that Watson was a bit of a jerk. However, to his credit, he does admit to this nowadays. If you have a modern version of the book he talks about it a little in the postscript.
Something to keep in mind is the book was written by a fairly young man in a very specific environment. This does not excuse the behavior, but may illuminate it a little. You can't read something and apply all current morals to it. As a real time documentation of the scientific process, it's pretty good, I appreciate the fact that it shows Watson not the best of lights. It is not a book that would be written nowadays given the intense media minded atmosphere.
posted by edgeways at 11:03 AM on March 4, 2005

i don't know edgeways, it seems to me that watson never grew out of his asshole ways.
posted by joedan at 12:52 PM on March 4, 2005

I certainly won't try and defend Watson, it isn't something I care to do. I do think the headline in that article is a bit strong replace Theory with Conjecture perhaps. I fail to see how asking uncomfortable questions, that may or may not be true makes one to be a racist or sexist. (perhaps he is, I don't know) At a minim he is guilty of being a bit myopic towards other people's feeling's. So a question may be, should he devote more attention to worrying about this flaw of his?
*shrug* don't know. But I do know some of the more contentious people I have met have some very interesting ideas from time to time.

Is he a bad person?
posted by edgeways at 1:31 PM on March 4, 2005

A quick note about the Nobel. It is NEVER awarded posthumously. No matter what.

What would it take to change this?
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:59 PM on March 6, 2005

Remembering Francis Crick
By Oliver Sacks
posted by matteo at 7:57 AM on March 7, 2005

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