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

Posted By Grant Jacobs On February 27, 2013 @ 10:34 am In Science and Society | 4 Comments

Yesterday I wrote about how the Crick family is to sell Francis Crick’s Nobel Prize medal [1]. 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 [2] on-line as a part of an article [3] about Crick writing to his son.

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


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 [4] to Linus Pauling. There is a photograph of it [5] on Flickr.)

Hat-tip to the Genetics Society (@GeneticsSociety) for pointing out [6] the New York Times’ presentation of the letter.

Other articles on Code for life:

Nobel Prize for DNA structure for sale [1]

Doggie ERVs [7]

Sea stars and mosaics [8]

The inheritance of face recognition (should you blame your parents if you can’t recognise faces?) [9]

Epigenetics – introductory explanations [10]

Nominate your favourite posts for a Science Seeker award [11]

Article printed from Code for Life: http://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life

URL to article: http://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life/2013/02/27/cricks-letter-to-son-aged-12-explaining-dna-discovery/

URLs in this post:

[1] is to sell Francis Crick’s Nobel Prize medal: http://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life/2013/02/26/nobel-prize-for-dna-structure-for-sale/

[2] a copy of the letter: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/02/26/science/crick-letter-on-dna-discovery.html?ref=science

[3] an article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/26/science/a-dna-lesson-from-the-pen-of-francis-crick.html

[4] this transcript of a letter: http://osulibrary.orst.edu/specialcollections/coll/pauling/dna/corr/corr68.11-crick-lp-19621024-transcript.html

[5] a photograph of it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/301202/4606493657/

[6] pointing out: https://twitter.com/geneticssociety/status/306501448349413377

[7] Doggie ERVs: http://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life/2011/05/20/doggie-ervs/

[8] Sea stars and mosaics: http://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life/2012/11/29/sea-stars-and-mosaics/

[9] The inheritance of face recognition (should you blame your parents if you can’t recognise faces?): http://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life/2010/03/03/the-inheritance-of-face-recognition/

[10] Epigenetics – introductory explanations: http://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life/2013/02/06/epigenetics-introductory-explanations/

[11] Nominate your favourite posts for a Science Seeker award: http://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life/2013/02/19/nominate-your-favourite-posts-for-a-science-seeker-award/

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