The Secret of Life
James D. Watson wrote a very personal piece about the death of his colleague, Francis Crick (August 9, 2004). In a cover story 33 years ago, TIME described their exhilaration and the impact of their breakthrough discovery of the structure of DNA [April 19, 1971]: Wildly excited, two men dashed out of a side door of Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory . and ducked into the Eagle, a pub where generations of Cambridge scientists have met to gossip about experiments and celebrate triumphs. Over drinks, James D. Watson, then 24, and Francis Crick, 36, talked excitedly, Crick’s booming voice damping out conversations among other Eagle patrons. When friends stopped to ask what the commotion was all about, Crick did not mince words. ‘We,’ he announced exultantly, ‘have discovered the secret of life!’ Brave words—and in a sense, incredibly true ... On that late winter day in 1953, the two unknown scientists had finally worked out the double-helical shape of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. IN DNA’S FAMED SPIRAL-STAIRCASE STRUCTURE ARE HIDDEN THE MYSTERIES OF HEREDITY OF GROWTH, OF DISEASE AND AGING
.....As the basic ingredient of the genes in the cells of all living organisms, DNA is truly the master molecule of life. [The discovery] was one of the great events in science, comparable to the splitting of the atom or the publication of Darwin’s
Origin of Species.”
August 30, 2004.
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