Crick's letter to son, aged 12, explaining DNA structure model

By Grant Jacobs 27/02/2013 4


Yesterday I wrote about how the Crick family is to sell Francis Crick’s Nobel Prize medal. In that post I mentioned how my attention was drawn to that the family is also considering selling Crick’s letter to his son Michael, then aged 12, explaining his and James Waton’s model for the structure of DNA.

It struck me as I was curious to see how he’d write to a non-scientist at close to the time of creating their model.

I was unsure if this letter had already been published and I now see that The New York Times has posted a copy of the letter on-line as a part of an article about Crick writing to his son.

Check it out, it’s wonderful little slice of history.

Footnote

It seems we can send some of our praise (or grumbles) about the first version of Microscoft’s spelling checker to Michael Crick, Francis Crick’s son to whom the letter is addressed.

You’ll see the letter is addressed to 19 Portugal Place. I still remember attending a party there whilst a student at the MRC LMB. The house had—and I would think should has—a single helix outside, the α-helix of proteins rather than the double helix of DNA. (I recall this being nicknamed the ‘Golden Helix’, as for example in this transcript of a letter to Linus Pauling. There is a photograph of it on Flickr.)

Hat-tip to the Genetics Society (@GeneticsSociety) for pointing out the New York Times’ presentation of the letter.


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Nobel Prize for DNA structure for sale

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The inheritance of face recognition (should you blame your parents if you can’t recognise faces?)

Epigenetics – introductory explanations

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4 Responses to “Crick's letter to son, aged 12, explaining DNA structure model”

  • The helix is still there! Or it was a year or so ago. I used to live on Portugal Street, adjacent to Portugal Place – such a lovely area of Cambridge, despite the Hawks Club next door to the house with the helix.

    • Liz,

      Thanks for telling me – it’s nice to know.

      It is a nice area but I didn’t really know it until invited to go there. Sort-of a street back from where I would typically go then. I got about mostly on foot and there when I visit now (very infrequently, it’s such a long way to go and I invariably have “spare” little time when I’m there) I realise there are parts I rarely visited. I did explore the old parts, e.g. the older college grounds, their libraries and whatnot.

  • A blog at NBC is reporting that Crick’s letter to his son sold at auction for $US6,059,750. Half of the money is to go to Crick’s son, the other half to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (where Crick on theoretical neuroscience worked in his latter years).

  • Regards the sale price, lest you be confused by reports of a smaller price elsewhere, that’s the auction winning bid ($5.3 million) and a buyer’s fee.

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