SPONSORSHIP WANTED FOR THE 2007 LONDON MARATHON : http://www.justgiving.com/chrisandgeoff

This web page is dedicated to the memory of the late Francis Crick who together with James Watson and the late Maurice Wilkins was awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, for their discovery of the structure of D.N.A. (The full length, authorised, scientific biography is currently being written by Professor Robert C. Olby, University of Pittsburgh, for publication in late 2007 by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.)

"How is Cambridge? Is the cold wind blowing across the fens, frisking up the waters of the Cam, whistling through the barbed wire on college walls, rattling the chain padlocks on college gates and causing a healthy glow to appear in the faces of bedmakers and undergraduates scurrying across the cobbles to the college bathroom? Is it blowing in under the door of the Strangeways, congealing the culture media and causing all honest amphibians to hibernate?" (MHF Wilkins,1948? to Crick; Olby, 1974; pp 353).

The Francis Crick Papers : Correspondence from 1948 to 1982 =


Read this fascinating selection of Francis Crick's scientific correspondence for 34 years!

The Francis Crick Papers : Articles (Chronological List: 1950 to 1990) =


Read this fascinating selection of Francis Crick's scientific papers for 40 years!

Click on the following URL for Mark Bretscher's 'Francis Crick' scientific collection he found at Cambridge:


Click here for the very first three/four newspaper stories in 1953 on the discovery of the structure of D.N.A.

"How the Brain 'sees' " video with Dr. Francis Crick and Professor Lewis Wolpert from The Times Dillon
Science Forum on May 25th 1994. (A video produced by Just Results Video Productions for The Times) PLEASE CONTACT MARTIN PACKER ON: martin@packer34.freeserve.co.uk OR PHONE ME ON : 0121 453 8245;

From Heinz Pagels's The Dreams of Reason (p. 266); he says he got it from Sydney Brenner:


Crick, the co-discovered of the molecular structure of DNA, dies and goes to heaven. He is met by St. Peter, who asks if he has any special requests. ``Yes,'' says Crick, I want to meet the Man himself and ask him a few questions.'' Peter says that there are not many requests of that kind, but it can be arranged, and he tells Crick to follow him. After passing through the Elysian fields, with their cool springs and lakes around which beautiful people are at play, their every desire fulfilled, Peter and Crick come to the mountains and enter a dark valley. The way is strewn with wrecked machines, electronic parts, broken glass and test tubes, organic garbage, old computers ---- a junkyard. At the end of the valley is a shack, which they enter, and inside is an old man, his coveralls stained in grease, blood, and chemicals. He is bending over a lab table filled with more junk, hard at work. ``Francis, meet God; God, meet Francis,'' says Saint Peter. ``Pleased to meet you,'' says Crick,``but what I want to know is how you made the muscle system for the fly's wing. It's so ingenious.'' ``Well,'' says God, ``I did it a long time ago, and it's really very simple. Let's see now if I remember. You just take a bit of tissue and then it's...well, twisted..and then, somehow...and then you rearrange...slap together these protein chains...and...Well, I don't remember all the details. But who cares, it works, doesn't it?''


Links to various web pages on the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine:




The sculpture, entitled Discovery, celebrates Francis Crick's discovery in 1953 of the DNA double helix, alongside the American James Watson. Crick, Watson and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962.Francis Harry Compton Crick was born in Weston Favell, Northamptonshire on 8 June 1916. He died in 2004, aged 88. Northampton Borough Council and the Wilson Foundation proposed a piece of public art be installed in the town centre and a design competition was launched. Lucy Glendinning's design for 'Discovery' got a resounding thumbs up from the public following an exhibition in the Grosvenor Centre earlier this year. She also impressed the selection panel which consisted of members of Professor Francis Crick's family, the borough council, the county council, the town centre partnership, and the Wilson Foundation who have generously funded the project. Leader of Northampton Borough Council, Phil Larratt said, "Lucy's work is aesthetically very attractive and we all agreed it would sit very well in Abington Street. She was the public's favourite and I hope they will be delighted and thrilled to see this beautiful and inspiring piece of art in the very centre of town. It will act as a daily reminder of Francis Crick's amazing life and work." Mr Lynn Wilson chairman of the Wilson Foundation said, "We are delighted to have been able to sponsor this project as representatives of a family that has been in the town for over a century and more so to have been invited to cut the ribbon. The sculpture celebrates the life of a world class scientist who must surely be considered the greatest Northamptonian of all time - by discovering DNA he unlocked the whole future of genetics and the alphabet of life." The sculpture was installed on Tuesday,13 December 2005 and a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Thursday, 15 December 2005 at 11.00am in Abington Street.




See the sheer scale of Crick's scientific achievement, search on: http://books.google.co.uk using Francis+Crick!

From MSN Encarta : http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761568380/Francis_Crick.html

http://nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/1962/crick-bio.html & http://nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/1962/crick-lecture.html

Listen to Francis Crick and James Watson talking on BBC radio in 1962, 1972, and 1974 on: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/audiointerviews/profilepages/crickwatson1.shtml

or more recently: http://www.artboy.info/strange/listen.html and select on: SA#53 - The Quest for Consciousness - 65 minutes - a conversation on Consciousness with Francis Crick, the Salk Institute and Christof Koch from Caltech.


From MSN Encarta : http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_701610386/Brenner_Sydney.html

From "My Life in Science by Sydney Brenner. Copyright © 2001. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

"Seeing DNA ...of course the most important thing that happened then is that Jack Dunitz told me about all the developments with DNA in Cambridge because he was following it all. He told me that Francis Crick and Jim Watson had solved the structure of DNA, so we decided to go across to Cambridge to seet. This was in April of 1953.Jack and I and Leslie [Orgel] and another crystallographer went to Cambridge by car. It was a small car. It was very cold I remember, and the car wasn't heated. No one had heaters in cars then. We must have arrived in Cambridge in the late morning, at about 11am or thereabouts. We went into the Austin wing of the Cavendish Laboratory. I went in with Jack and Leslie, into this room that was lined with brick, and there on the side I can remember very clearly was this small model with plates for the bases - the original model with everything screwed together. And I could see the double helix! Francis was sitting there. This was the first time I met him and of course he couldn't stop talking. He just went on and on and on, and it was very inspiring, you see. Of course at this stage neither of the two famous Nature papers had yet appeared. The first paper was expected in a few weeks. They talked mainly about what eventually was in the second paper. Jim was at his desk in that room which I came to occupy later when I came to the Cavendish, and he was interspersing comments with Francis. So that's when I saw the DNA model for the first time, in the Cavendish, and that's when I saw that this was it. And in a flash you just knew that this was very fundamental. The curtain had been lifted and everything was now clear [as to] what to do. I got tremendously excited by this."


http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/KR/ for the Rosalind Franklin papers at the National Library of Medicine

From MSN Encarta : http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761564570/Franklin_Rosalind_Elsie.html


From MSN Encarta : unfortunately there is no article on Christof Koch, Francis Crick's last collaborator.

Since Christof [Koch, below right] was such a close friend and collaborator of Francis, I* asked him for a comment. Christof was understandably upset, but managed to compose this thoughtful observation: “ Francis Crick was a close personal friend and mentor to me for the past sixteen years. He was the living incarnation of what it is to be a scholar: brilliant, rational, dispassionate, and always willing to revise his own opinions and views in light of the actions of a universe that never ceased to astonish him. He was editing a manuscript on his death bed, a scientist until the bitter end.” An end that is only a beginning. * Michael Shermer.


From MSN Encarta : http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761555924/Linus_Pauling.html

& Francis Crick: The Impact of Linus Pauling on Molecular Biology

(from the 1995 Oregon State University symposium on Linus Pauling) :



From MSN Encarta : unfortunately there is no article on Sir John Randall (above) of King's College London


From MSN Encarta : http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761555158/Schr%C3%B6dinger_Erwin.html


copyright A. Barrington-Brown/Photo Researchers Inc.

From MSN Encarta : http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761560789/Watson_James_Dewey.html (below)

http://nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/1962/watson-bio.html (above) & http://nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/1962/watson-lecture.html (above)


From MSN Encarta : http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761560660/Wilkins_Maurice_Hugh_Frederick.html

http://nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/1962/wilkins-bio.html (above) & http://nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/1962/wilkins-lecture.html (above)

Francis Crick's doodle of The Double Helix/James Watson's new Double Helix sculpture in Cambridge.

The actual wording on the new DNA sculpture outside Clare College's Thirkill Court, Cambridge, England is

on the base:

i) "These strands unravel during cell reproduction. Genes are encoded in the sequence of bases."

ii) "The double helix model was supported by the work of Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins."

on the helices:

i) "The structure of DNA was discovered in 1953 by Francis Crick and James Watson while Watson lived here at Clare."

ii) "The molecule of DNA has two helical strands that are linked by base pairs Adenine - Thymine or Guanine - Cytosine."

Tony Badger, Master of Clare, said: "It is wonderful to have this lasting reminder of his* achievements while he was at Clare and the enormous contribution he* and Francis Crick have made to our understanding of life on earth." * James Watson.

The aluminium sculpture stands fifteen feet high. It took a pair of technicians a fortnight to build it. For the artist responsible it was an opportunity to create a monument that brings together the themes of science and nature; Charles Jencks, Sculptor: "It embraces the trees, you can sit on it and the ground grows up and it twists out of the ground. So it's truly interacting with living things like the turf, and that idea was behind it and I think it does celebrate life and DNA"

Francis Crick's scientific papers are held by the Wellcome Trust in London and the National Library of Medicine in the USA and can be found on the following web pages: unfortunately some of the former Wellcome Trust web pages are no longer available and are indicated below as being 'N.A.' followed by their former description:

http://genome.wellcome.ac.uk/node30074.html FOR THE INTRODUCTION TO THE CRICK PAPERS:

N.A. for exploring the papers

http://genome.wellcome.ac.uk/doc_WTD022322.html & http://genome.wellcome.ac.uk/doc_WTD023558.html

(for acquiring/archiving the papers)

http://genome.wellcome.ac.uk/doc_WTD022316.html (for 1952: at the Cavendish)

N.A. for 1953: the Double Helix

http://genome.wellcome.ac.uk/doc_WTD022318.html (for 1953: DNA replication)

alternatively from the National Library of Medicine for 1951 to 1953:


http://genome.wellcome.ac.uk/doc_WTD022319.html (for 1955: from DNA to protein)

alternatively from the National Library of Medicine for 1954 to 1957:


N.A. for 1961: the triplet code

http://genome.wellcome.ac.uk/doc_WTD022321.html (for 1962: the Nobel Prize)

alternatively from the National Library of Medicine for 1958 to 1966:


and for 1966 to 1976:


and for 1976 to 2004:


N.A. for a short biography of Crick

alternatively from the National Library of Medicine:


N.A. for his obituary by The Salk Institute

N.A. for his timeline: 1916 to 2004

Keep the 'Cambridge' contribution in perspective, see King's College London: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/dna/role.html and http://www.kcl.ac.uk/depsta/ppro/dna/scientists/wilkins.html for their biography of the late Maurice Wilkins.

Francis Crick's very last scientific paper (co-written with Christof Koch) was published on 30th June, 2005 :

'What is the function of the claustrum?' is the final paper by Francis Crick and it investigates an enigmatic neural structure called the claustrum, which may play a key role in consciousness.  This paper was published online in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences* on the 30th June 2005.

Click here for a News and Views article in Nature discussing this paper.


What is the function of the claustrum?

Francis C. Crick A1 and Christof Koch A2

A1 The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, 10010 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
A2 California Institute of Technology, M/S 139-74, 1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA


The claustrum is a thin, irregular, sheet-like neuronal structure hidden beneath the inner surface of the neocortex in the general region of the insula. Its function is enigmatic. Its anatomy is quite remarkable in that it receives input from almost all regions of cortex and projects back to almost all regions of cortex. We here briefly summarize what is known about the claustrum, speculate on its possible relationship to the processes that give rise to integrated conscious percepts, propose mechanisms that enable information to travel widely within the claustrum and discuss experiments to address these questions.


neuroanatomy, connectivity, primate, electrophysiology, gap junctions, cortex

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-1195794_1,00.html for his 2 page obituary from The Times (30.7.04)

On his death in 2004, Lord May of Oxford, the President of the Royal Society, said: "We are all greatly saddened to learn of the death today of Francis Crick, who was known worldwide for his contribution to discovering the structure of DNA, which earned him a share of a Nobel prize in 1962. Just last year we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication in the journal 'Nature' of his landmark scientific paper, written with James Watson, which described the correct double helix structure of DNA for the first time. Francis Crick made an enormous contribution to science and his discoveries helped to usher in a golden age of molecular biology. His death is a sad loss to science and our thoughts are with his family and colleagues."

Christof Koch, a close friend and collaborator of Francis Crick, said: “ Francis Crick was a close personal friend and mentor to me for the past sixteen years. He was the living incarnation of what it is to be a scholar: brilliant, rational, dispassionate, and always willing to revise his own opinions and views in light of the actions of a universe that never ceased to astonish him. He was editing a manuscript on his death bed, a scientist until the bitter end.”

Links to 21 papers co-written by Francis Crick, with Christof Koch and others 1990 - 2004:

Crick FHC, Koch C, Kreiman G, and Fried I Consciousness and Neuroscience. Neurosurgery (2004) 55, 273-282

Koch C. and Crick FHC The Neuronal Basis of Visual Consciousness. The Visual Neurosciences, Chalupa L.M. and Werner J.S. eds., MIT Press (2004) 0, 1682-1694

Crick, FHC. and Koch, C A framework for consciousness. Nature Neuroscience (2003) 6, 119-126

Crick FHC. and Koch C. The Problem of Consciousness.. Scientific American (2002) 0, 0-0

Koch, C. and Crick, FHC. The neural basis of consciousness. Intl. Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral SciencesElsevier, (2001) 0, 2600-2604

Crick FHC, Koch C The Unconscious Homunculus. In: The Neuronal Correlate of Consciousness, Metzinger, T., ed.,pp. 103-110. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA (2000) 0, 0-0

Koch, C. and Crick, F.H.C. Some Thoughts on Consciousness and Neuroscience. The Cognitive Neurosciences2-nd edition, Gazzaniga, M.S., editor, . MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, (2000) 0, 1285-1294

Crick, FHC & Koch C The Neurobiology of Consciousness. In: The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences, Wilson, R.A. and Keil, F.C., eds., MIT Press: Cambridge, MA (1999) 0, 193-195

Crick FHC, Koch C Constraints on cortical and thalamic projections: The no-strong-loops hypothesis. Nature (1998) 391, 245-250

Crick FHC, Koch C Consciousness and neuroscience. Cerebral Cortex (1998) 8, 97-107

or listen to: http://www.artboy.info/strange/listen.html for: SA#53 - The Quest for Consciousness - 65 minutes - 65mb

a conversation on Consciousness with neurobiologists Francis Crick , the Salk Institute and Christof Koch ,Caltech

http://www.klab.caltech.edu/~koch/crick-koch-cc-97.html for Consciousness and Neuroscience by Crick and Koch

Crick, FHC. and Koch, C. Why Neuroscience may be able to explain consciousness. Explaining Consciousness: The Hard Problem Shear, J, ed., . MIT Press: Cambridge, MA (1997) 0, 237-240

Crick, FHC. and Koch, C. Towards a Neurobiological Theory of Consciousness. The Nature of ConsciousnessBlock,N., Flanagan, O. and G"uzeldere, G., eds. . MIT Press: Cambridge, MA (1997) 0, 277-292

Crick FHC, Koch C Are We Aware of Neural Activity In Primary Visual Cortex. Nature (1995) 375, 121-123

Crick FHC, Koch C Why Neuroscience May Be Able To Explain Consciousness. Scientific American (1995) 273, 84-85

Crick FHC, Koch C Cortical Areas In Visual Awareness - Reply. Nature (1995) 377, 294-295

Koch, C. and Crick, FHC. Some Further Ideas Regarding the Neuronal Basis of Awareness. Large-Scale Neuronal Theories of the Brain Koch, C. and Davis, J., eds., , MIT Press: Cambridge, MA, (1994) 0, 93-110

Crick FHC, Koch C The Problem of Consciousness. Scientific American (1992) 267, 153-159

Crick, FHC. und Koch, C. Das Problem des Bewuss tseins. Spektrum der Wissenschaft , November (1992) 0, 144-152

Koch C, Crick FHC Understanding Awareness At The Neuronal Level. Behavioral and Brain Sciences (1991) 14, 683-684

Crick FHC, Koch C Some Reflections On Visual Awareness. Cold Spring Harbor Symposia On Quantitative Biology (1990) 55, 953-962

Crick, FHC and Koch, C Towards a neurobiological theory of consciousness. Seminars in the Neurosciences (1990) 2, 263-275

Francis Crick (1916 - 2004) : Recollections by Graeme Mitchison*, pub. Journal of Genetics, 83, 221. in 2005.

The death of Francis Crick deprives us of one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century, whose creativity and power of mind dominated molecular biology in its golden years. Many people have told the story of his achievements; here I would simply like to recollect some of the qualities of this remarkable man.

The first impression one had of Francis was of brilliance. He was dazzlingly quick in his thought processes, and his blue eyes seemed to light up as the solution to a problem sprang into his mind. Alongside this speed went clarity: the blurs and confusions in most minds simply did not exist for him. When somebody gave a lecture, Francis was ready at the end (and often in the middle) to give them a lucid and exact account of what their work meant, for better or for worse. This made the Laboratory of Molecular Biology's end-of-year lectures a terrifying ordeal for many, but increased their intellectual value, and also made them into excellent spectator sport.

Another quality he had seems almost the opposite of this quicksilver clarity: he had an inexhaustible tenacity that kept him worrying at a problem for long stretches of time. And "worry" is the word, for there was a kind of nagging unease that kept him forever searching and coming back to what might have been considered established ground. This persistence was never inward-turned; he was always open and communicative and always eager to talk and to listen to others; indeed, he was superbly gifted as a listener and eliciter of information, and conversation formed a large part of his daily scientific life.

Conversations were going on apace when I visited him at the Salk Institute in the early 1980s, but now the topic was the brain. He wanted to know everything about visual processing in higher vertebrates: anatomy, physiology and perception, down to the smallest experimental detail. It was fascinating to see how skilfully he drew out the neuroscientists who came to talk to him and how he searched ceaselessly for guiding principles.

The most striking thing was that this was truly a search. Many people with a theoretical bent try to impose their ideas on the world, the type of mind disposed towards abstract reasoning being the type of mind most easily seduced by it. It was quite otherwise with Francis. He had great powers of abstract reasoning, but he had an even greater respect for truth, and he was always looking for clues as to what might really be going on. This combination of abilities is far rarer than an optimist might suppose.

Francis's visitors at the Salk could expect to be worked pretty hard, but they could also expect to enjoy themselves. Francis was fun to be with. No one who knew him will forget his wonderful vitality, how he would leap up and run to the board to make some point -- "You see, it's got to be like this!" -- or how he would be delighted by some remark and the famous laugh would ring out. But there might also be spells of obsessive concentration so that by the end of an afternoon a visitor's intellectual and nervous resources might be at a low ebb. They would then be glad of the moment when his secretary, Betty
Lang, entered discreetly with cups of a curious pungent, steaming drink, an experimental form of herbal tea. Under its influence, one would gradually become conscious of the panorama of the Pacific that his window commanded, and of the hang gliders making their beat along the clifftops. This grand natural scene was a sort of physical correlate of Francis's intellectual world: wide-ranging, brilliantly lit, a little over-aweing, but also immensely inviting and above all an exciting place to be.

* Crick, Mitchison: The function of dream sleep. Nature 304 (1983): 111-114; REM sleep and neural nets. Behav Brain Res 69 (1995): 147-155. Graeme Mitchison is a mathematician working at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, U.K.


for the three BBC Radio interviews: The Prizewinners, Double Helix Revisited, and Scientifically Speaking. You will need RealPlayer to access all of these clips; visit www.real.com/products/player/bbc.html for help in downloading RealPlayer 10 on a 14 day free trial basis.


for Francis Crick's 6 page letter of 13.4.67 to James Watson regarding his book THE DOUBLE HELIX; see the bottom of this page for more information on how to access on-line The Francis Crick Papers.

In view of the importance of the following book to the D.N.A. story, it is listed before any of the other 15 books:

http://home.att.net/~p.caimi/schrodinger.html for the full text of Erwin Schrodinger's "What is Life?" (pub. 1944)

"How can the events in space and time which take place within the spatial boundary of a living organism be accounted for by physics and chemistry?" Every key participant in the race for the structure of DNA was influenced by this book:

James Watson: (quote) " Schrodinger argued that life could be thought of in terms of storing and passing on biological information. ....Schrodinger's book was tremendously influential. Many of those who would become major players in Act 1 of molecular biology's great drama, including Francis Crick (a former physicist himself), had, like me, read What is Life? and been impressed. In my own case, Schrodinger struck a chord because I too was intrigued by the essence of life. " (Written in 2003).

Francis Crick: (quote) " On those who came into the subject just after the 1939-1945 war Schrodinger's little book...seems to have been peculiary influential. Its main point - that biology needs the stability of chemical bonds and that only quantum physics can explain this - was one that only a physicist would feel it necessary to make, but the book was extremely well written and conveyed in an exciting way the idea that, in biology, molecular explanations would not only be extremely important, but also that they were just around the corner.This had been said before, but Schrodinger's book was very timely and attracted people who might otherwise have not entered biology at all." (Written in 1965)

However in 1971 Francis Crick added:

"I cannot recall any occassion when Jim Watson and I discussed the limitations of Schrodinger's book. I think the main reason for this is that we were strongly influenced by Pauling, who had essentially the correct set of ideas. We therefore never wasted any time discussing whether we should think in the way Schrodinger did or the way Pauling did. It seemed obvious to us that we should follow Pauling."

Quoting the above in his review of "What is Life?" in 1987, published in "Is Science Necessary?" as "Physics and The Riddle of Life", Max Perutz said: "Neither can I recall Crick, Watson, John Kendrew, and me ever discussing the bearing of Schrodinger's book on structural molecular biology during our years together at the Cavendish Laboratory."

Maurice Wilkins: (quote) "I was attracted by Schrodinger's thinking in What is Life?" because he linked the extremely important biological idea of a gene with the rather strange world of electrons moving in crystals. He wrote about a gene being an aperiodic crystal, and that connected directly with my PhD research where electrons moved freely in perfect crystals but could be slowed down and trapped when the crystal had irregularity. It seemed to me that 'aperiodic' crystals referred to the local irregularities in which the genetic message was written, against a periodic background. But the main impact of Schrodinger's book was that it set me in motion. I t was not just what he wrote, but how he wrote it...Schrodinger used the language of physicists and that stimulated me, as a physicist, to persevere with his book and its introduction to genetics." (Written in 2004).

See: http://nobelprize.org/physics/laureates/1933/schrodinger-bio.html for Schrodinger's 1933 Nobel Prize biography.

AND if you want to understand what all the fuss was about in 1953, download: THE DOUBLE HELIX as a pdf file, and try to appreciate why both Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins were so very upset by its publication in 1968!

But from the beginning, the Watson and Crick story had traces of hubris. As told in Watson's classic memoir, "The Double Helix," it was a tale of boundless ambition, impatience with authority and disdain, if not contempt, for received opinion. ("A goodly number of scientists," Watson explained, "are not only narrow-minded and dull but also just stupid.") Yet the Watson and Crick story is also one of sublime harmony, an example, as a colleague put it, of "that marvelous resonance between two minds — that high state in which 1 plus 1 does not equal 2 but more like 10."..........This theme of Watson's book — the hot pursuit of glory, the race against the chemist Linus Pauling for the Nobel Prize that DNA would surely bring--got bad reviews from the (relatively) genteel Crick. He didn't recall anyone mentioning a Nobel Prize. "My impression was that we were just, you know, mad keen to solve the problem," he later said. But whatever their aims, Watson and Crick shared an attraction to DNA, and when they wound up in the same University of Cambridge laboratory, they bonded. Taken from The Time 100:


Biographical and other key information about Francis Crick's life/work can be found on the following 6 URL's:

http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/SC/Views/Exhibit/narrative/biographical.html biographical information: 1916 - 2004

http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/SC/Views/Exhibit/narrative/doublehelix.html the Double Helix discovery: 1951 - 1953

See also: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/audiointerviews/profilepages/crickwatson1.shtml for:

The Prizewinners 11 December 1962  BBC in which Francis Crick talks to Stephen Black about:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/audiointerviews/realmedia/crickwatson/crickwatson4.ram His collaboration with James Watson (2 min 13 secs.)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/audiointerviews/realmedia/crickwatson/crickwatson5.ram How long it took to work out the molecular structure of DNA (1 min. 32 seconds)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/audiointerviews/realmedia/crickwatson/crickwatson6.ram The properties of life and what a virus is (2 mins. 20 secs)

http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/SC/Views/Exhibit/narrative/defining.html defining genetic coding problem: 1954 - 1957

http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/SC/Views/Exhibit/narrative/deciphering.html deciphering the genetic code: 1958 - 1966

http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/SC/Views/Exhibit/narrative/embryology.html for embryology and the organization of DNA in higher organisms: 1966 - 1976

See also: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/audiointerviews/profilepages/crickwatson1.shtml for:

Double Helix Revisited: 29 October 1972  Radio 3 in which Watson and Crick talk to Paul Vaughan about:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/audiointerviews/realmedia/crickwatson/crickwatson1.ram How they discovered DNA (2 mins. 3 secs.)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/audiointerviews/realmedia/crickwatson/crickwatson2.ram Whether their discovery changed the direction of scientific research (0 min. 38 secs.)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/audiointerviews/realmedia/crickwatson/crickwatson3.ram Regrets about what they did and didn't do (2 mins. 8 secs.)


See also: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/audiointerviews/profilepages/crickwatson1.shtml for:

Scientifically Speaking: 26 August 1974  Radio 3 in which Francis Crick talks to John Maddox about

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/audiointerviews/realmedia/crickwatson/crickwatson7.ram His interest in development biology and embryology (4 mins. 37 secs.)

Dr F. H. C. Crick   Francis Crick CBE, PhD, FRS resigned as joint head of the Cell Biology Division of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology on 31 March 1977. Dr Crick has been associated with the Council since being awarded a studentship in 1947 at the Strangeways Research  Laboratory; he joined the staff of Laboratory (then the MRC Unit for Research on the Molecular Structure of Biological Systems) in 1949. In 1962 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine jointly with Dr James Watson and Professor Maurice Wilkins for elucidating the structure of DNA. Latterly he has been particularly concerned with the structure of chromatin, hitherto an intractable problem, and notable results have already been achieved. He has now joined the staff of Salk Institute, La Jolla, California, where he has been a non-resident Fellow for twelve years. (from M.R.C. Annual Report for 1976/1977)

"The Times" : 29.3.77  US tempting some top British scientists by Peter Godfrey  

" Some of Britain's foremost scientists are under pressure to follow the example of Dr. Francis Crick, FRS, the pioneering Nobel Prize winner, by emigrating to improve their financial status.   Dr. Max Perutz, FRS, Director of the Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge, said last night that several scientists at the laboratory had been offered higher salaries in the United States. "They have been offered very tempting jobs, but so far I am pleased to say that they have turned them down because they prefer the working environment here."   Dr. Perutz, a Nobel laureate for chemistry, added that an American university had offered to create a special post for him, but he had no intention of leaving Britain.   It was at the Cambridge laboratory that Dr. Crick undertook the research, together with Professor James Watson, that lead to the discovery of DNA, throwing unprecedented light on the study of genetics. They were awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1962. After 25 years at Cambridge, Dr. Crick, who is 60, has accepted a post at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, California.   Although Dr. Crick was not available for comment in California last night, Dr. Perutz said his colleague's reasons for leaving were entirely financial. "He was very happy here, and but for the worry that he might have been short of money when he retired, I am sure he would have stayed", he said.   Dr. Crick's emigration was precipitated by the closing of a tax loophole whereby British academics could, until 1974, teach for two months a year in the United States without being taxed, provided that their dollar earnings were not brought back to Britain. Added to that, top research scientists' salaries have been frozen at £8,000 - £9,000 for five years and British universities are rigid in enforcing a retiring age of 65, unlike American universities are more flexible." (Leading Article, Page 17)

Leading article, page 17, 29.3.77: "With Dr. Crick, however, the problem is not one of fabulous income or wealth. It is the combination of enforced retirement from Cambridge at the age of sixty-five, the recent five-year freeze on academic salaries and the 1974 changes in the treatment of income earned abroad have together led him to the conclusion that it is no longer sensible to remain in the United Kingdom. He has, therefore, migrated to the Salk Institute in Calfornia. If he remained in the United Kingdom some three quarters of anything he earned on periodic forays, say, to the United States would be taxed at his full United Kingdom rate.... That such a distinguished scientist in the latter stages of his career is forced to such a conclusion, because he is unable to provide a satisfactory income for the remainder of his life, should give Mr. Healey pause for thought. If, today, he can begin the process of restoring sense to the tax system, it will not be a moment too soon."

"The Sunday Times": `27.3.77 Nobel prize-winner quits Britain by Will Ellsworth-Jones  

" DR. FRANCIS CRICK, the man who shared a Nobel Prize for what has been called the most important scientific advance of the century, has left Britain because of our tax laws.   Crick is planning to take up a permanent post at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, where he went last September as a visiting professor on what was thought to be a one year sabbatical.   The loss of a man like Crick must be seen as a damaging blow to Britain's prestige even though personalities like Mick Jagger, shipowner Ravi Tikkoo and golfer Tony Jacklin have left Britain with rather more ballyhoo as they head for their tax exiles.   Crick has been based at the Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge for 25 years and it was there, with young American James Watson, that he unlocked the secret of the structure of DNA. Their low-key article, published in Nature in April 1953, showed how DNA was the genetic substance capable of storing and transmitting the thousands of millions of facts needed to create a human being from one minute cell.   Their discovery, the key to the reproduction of living things, brought unrivalled prestige to their Cambridge laboratory. Ever since, Crick has been a powerhouse of ideas and critical analysis at the laboratory, and at the age of 60 fellow workers say "there is no sign whatever of any decline in power".   Crick will not comment about his departure. Contacted in California he said "You know I never talk to the Press, what makes you optimistic this time?" When it was suggested that Crick (who lists his recreation in Who's Who as "conversation, especially with pretty women") might want to comment this time because of the importance of his decision, he repeated he had nothing to say.   But he has told his laboratory in Cambridge that it was a change in tax laws which made him decide to leave. Until the 1974 Finance Act, British academics could be resident here and teach in America for a couple of months a year, and provided they did not bring their American earnings back to Britain, they were not taxed either here or in America.   Crick held, among several international titles, the post of non-resident Fellow at the Salk Institute, and like other fellow senior academics he used to supplement his Cambridge income, and meet new faces by lecturing abroad.   But in 1974, following a row over Lonrho paying salaries to directors in the Cayman Islands, the government closed this loophole and ruled that even if earnings were kept abroad, threequarters of them would be taxed here. The universities warned the government that this could drive some academics abroad, but the need to corner businessmen was stronger than the need to worry about academics.   Dr. Max Perutz, head of the Cambridge laboratory said last week: "It is terribly sad for us, he had a tremendous stimulating influence here." A colleague at the laboratory, Dr. Aaron Klug says "Obviously we are not going to stop working and go into mourning, but it is very sad. He was such a tremendous spirit in our laboratory. He had a grasp of so many different lines. He is such a good critic, quick to see an avenue to explore or a weakness in someone else's work."   Crick has recently been studying how the DNA thread which carries the genes wraps itself up into a coil to form chromosomes. He is also tackling the even more complicated problem, which has puzzled biologists for centuries, of how organisms develop from the egg and how their pattern and shape is decided by inherited biological processes.   He will join another exile from Cambridge at the Salk, Dr. Leslie Orgel. Dr. Orgel has been specialising in bio-genesis and the origin of life. But the prospects of the two Cambridge men working in California making a breakthrough in this field is remote, according to Dr. Orgel. "Obviously we talk about our problems, but we are working in different fields, " he says.   Cambridge's hopes of seeing Crick again rest in the law which allows tax exiles to return to Britain for up to 90 days a year once they have been away for a year. So the man who, in Cambridge, produced one of the key advances of the century might end up as no more than a visiting professor to Britain."      

http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/SC/Views/Exhibit/narrative/neurobiology.html from molecular biology to neurobiology: 1976 - 2004

http://www.salk.edu/ for The Salk Institute For Biological Studies, La Jolla, California (where Crick last worked).

& http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/SC/Views/Exhibit/other/visuals.html for visual images of Francis Crick in the N.L.M.

All of the above pages are by kind courtesy of The U.S. National Library of Medicine : The Francis Crick Papers.

(Sketches of Francis Crick made by Howard J. Morgan, three of the six in the National Portrait Gallery, London)

Books by/about Francis Crick: most of which can be sourced through ABE Books on: www.abebooks.co.uk or in the case of OUP (Oxford University Press) through 'new book' bookshops or on: http://www.oup.co.uk/bookshop/

Books written by Francis Crick:

"Of Molecules and Men" (pub. Prometheus Books, 1966) 99 pp and see: http://www.ralphmag.org/DE/crick.html;

A portion of the book was published as "The Computer, the Eye, the Soul" in Saturday Review (1966): 53-55.

see: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1591021855/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-9210889-5711118#reader-link

"Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature" (pub. Macdonald, 1981) 192 pp

"The Astonishing Hypothesis* : The Scientific Search For The Soul" (pub. Touchstone Books, 1994) 317 pp

see: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0684801582/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-9210889-5711118#reader-link

* is that "You", your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. (from the Introduction)

* See interviews with Francis Crick regarding "The Astonishing Hypothesis" by Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove on the following two URL's:




"What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery"(pub. Weidenfield & Nicholson, 1988) 182 pp

see: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0465091385/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-9210889-5711118#reader-link

See also: "Isis 82", published in 1991 for Pnina G. Abir-Am's Essay review: "Noblesse olblige: lives of molecular biologists" 18 pp, particularly for her critical comments on the autobiographies of Francis Crick and Max Perutz.



http://www.thing.net/~grist/l&d/mcclure/mc-crick.htm (First published in the 1975 Margins Symposium.)

10 papers co-written by Francis Crick, other than those co-written with Christof Koch - see above - 1952 to 2000 :

Evidence for the Pauling-Corey alpha-Helix in Synthetic Polypeptides Nature 169 , 234-235 (1952)

Molecular structure of Nucleic Acids by James D. Watson and Francis H. C. Crick. Nature 171, 737–738 (1953).

Genetical implications of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid by J. D. Watson and F. H. Crick in Nature 171, 964-967 (1953)

The structure of collagen by A Rich and F. H. Crick in Nature 176, 915-916 (1955)

On Degenerate Templates and the Adaptor Hypothesis: A Note for the RNA Tie Club by Francis Crick (1956)

On protein synthesis by F. H. Crick in Symp Soc Exp Biol. (1958);12:138-63.

General nature of the genetic code for proteins by F. H. C. Crick, L. Barnett, S. Brenner and R. J. Watts-Tobin in Nature 192 pages 1227-1232 (1961)

The Croonian lecture, 1966. The genetic code by F. H.C. Crick in Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. (1967) Volume 167 pages 331-347.

Molecular Biology in the Year 2000 by Francis Crick in Nature 228, 613-615 (1970).

Anticipating an RNA world. Some past speculations on the origin of life: where are they today? by L. E. Orgel and F. H. Crick in FASEB J. (1993) Volume 7 pages 238-239.

http://nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/1962/index.html for the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.


Books about Francis Crick or by/about other scientists with references to Francis Crick:

Francis Crick (undergraduate: University College, London & postgraduate: Gonville & Caius, Cambridge; also honorary fellow of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge and founding fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge.)

Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code by Matt Ridley, published by HarperPress/Atlas Books U.K. in 2006

See also: http://www.amphilsoc.org/library/mole/o/olby.htm and http://www.pitt.edu/~hpsdept/people/fac_pages/olby.html

James Watson (undergraduate: Chicago University & postgraduate: Indiana University; also Clare College, Cambridge.) See: http://www.cshl.org/public/SCIENCE/jdw.html - for a potted biography in his own words.

"A Passion for DNA: Genes, Genomes and Society" by James Watson (pub. OUP, 2000) 250 pp

see: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0879696095/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-9210889-5711118#reader-link

"DNA: The Secret of Life" by James Watson, with Andrew Berry (pub. Arrow Books, 2003) 487 pp

"Genes, girls and Gamow" by James Watson (pub. OUP, 2001) 275 pp

see: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0375727159/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-9210889-5711118#reader-link

"The Double Helix: A Personal Account of The Discovery of the Structure of DNA" by James Watson (first pub. Weidenfield & Nicholson, 1969) 128 pp see: THE DOUBLE HELIX for the PDF file of this important small book!

The Norton Critical Edition, edited by Gunther S. Stent: text, commentary, review and original papers; pub. W.W. Norton, 1980: I would strongly recommend reading this essential book for an almost complete understanding of the 'DNA' period!

and see also: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0451627873/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-9210889-5711118#reader-link

"The Molecular Biology of the Gene" by James Watson (pub. W.A. Benjamin, 1970) 662 pp

"Watson and DNA: Making a Scientific Revolution" by Victor K. McElheny (pub. Wiley, 2003) 363 pp

see: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0738203416/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-9210889-5711118#reader-link

Other books of which James Watson is a co-author, include:

"Recombinant DNA" (pub. Scientific American Library, 1983) 260 pp

"The DNA Story : A Documentary History of Gene Cloning" (pub. Freeman & Co., 1981) 605pp

"The Molecular Biology of the Cell" (pub. Garland Publishing, 1983) 1218 pp

Sir Lawrence Bragg (undergraduate: University of Adelaide; Trinity College/Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge)

See: http://nobelprize.org/physics/laureates/1915/wl-bragg-bio.html and



"Light Is A Messenger" (The life & science of Sir Lawrence Bragg) by Graeme Hunter (pub. OUP, 2004) 301 pp

for a review, see: http://journals.iucr.org/a/issues/2005/02/00/pf0015/pf0015bdy.html. By the same author, see:

"Vital Forces: The Discovery of the Molecular Basis of Life" by Graeme Hunter (pub. Academic Press, 2000) 364pp see: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0123618118/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-9210889-5711118#reader-link

Rosalind Franklin (undergraduate/postgraduate: Newnham College, Cambridge; also at King's College, London)

See: http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/en/genome/geneticsandsociety/hg13b003.html

and: http://www.physics.ucla.edu/%7Ecwp/Phase2/Franklin,_Rosalind@841234567.html

and: http://www.physics.ucla.edu/~cwp/articles/franklin/piper.html

and: http://www.aip.org/pt/vol-56/iss-3/p42.html for Lynne Elkins' erudite article from "Physics Today".

"Rosalind Franklin and DNA" by Anne Sayre (pub. Norton, 1975) 221 pp

see: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0393320448/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-9210889-5711118#reader-link

"Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA" by Brenda Maddox (pub. Harpercollins, 2002) 380 pp

see: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0060985089/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-9210889-5711118#reader-link

See also: "Isis 82", published in 1991 for Pnina G. Abir-Am's Essay review: "Noblesse olblige: lives of molecular biologists" 18 pp, particularly for her critical comments on the autobiographies of Francis Crick and Max Perutz.

Maurice Wilkins (undergraduate: St. John's College, Cambridge; postgraduate: University of Birmingham; later at King's College, London.) See: http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/en/genome/geneticsandsociety/hg13f025.html

"The Third Man of The Double Helix" (The Autobiography of Maurice Wilkins) by Maurice Wilkins (pub. OUP, 2003) 274 pp Note: This book is now in paperback with an amended page 182, see: www.oup.com for more details.

While he may not be as well known as Sir Lawrence Bragg, Crick, Franklin, Watson, and Wilkins- there was also:

Sir John Randall (late of Birmingham University, St. Andrews University, and especially King's College, London)

See: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/dna/scientists/randall.html for more information on Sir John Randall.

See: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/175/story/biog3764.html for information on D.N.A. work by King's College London staff.

For different views of the history of the discovery of the structure of D.N.A., try:

See: http://www.exploratorium.edu/origins/coldspring/ideas/printit.html

See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2906695.stm for the current KCL attitude to Cambridge's 'success' with D.N.A.!

Sydney Brenner (Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg; Oxford University; Cambridge University; LMB, Cambridge)

"My Life in Science"/"Sydney Brenner: A Life in Science" with Lewis Wolpert (pub. Science Archive Ltd., 2001; 199 pp)

Reference Books:

"The Path To The Double Helix : The Discovery of DNA" by Robert Olby (pub. Macmillan, 1974, updated 1994) 310 pp See: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0486681173/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-9210889-5711118#reader-link


"The Eight Day of Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Biology" by Horace Freeland Judson (pub. Penguin, 1979, updated 1996) 686 pp

"In Search of the Double Helix: Quantum Physics Helix" by John Gribbin (pub. Penguin, 1995) 361 pp

"A Passion For Science: Renowned scientists offer vivid personal portraits of their lives in science" by Lewis Wolpert and Alison Roberts (published by Oxford University Press 1989): interviews with Crick and Brenner.

"Vital Forces: The Discovery of the Molecular Basis of Life" by Graeme Hunter (pub. Academic Press, 2000) 364pp see: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0123618118/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-9210889-5711118#reader-link

"Designs for Life: Molecular Biology after World War Two" by Soraya de Chadarevian (pub. CUP, 2002) 444pp

see: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/reader/0521570786/ref=sib_dp_pt/026-3069287-0341200#reader-link

"I wish I'd made you angry earlier" Essays on Science and Scientists by Max F. Peruz (pub. OUP, 1998) 354pp

"On Giant's Shoulders: Great Scientists and Their Discoveries from Archimedes to DNA" by Melyvn Bragg (pub. Sceptre, 1998) 365 pp

"Cambridge Scientific Minds", edited by Peter Hamans and Simon Williams; (pub. CUP 2002) 343 pp

"DNA: Changing Science & Society", 2003 Darwin Lectures, edited by Torsten Krude; (pub. CUP 2003) 193 pp

"D.N.A. Genesis of a Discovery", edited by Seweryn Chomet, (pub. Newman-Hemisphere 1995) 150 pp.: copies available for £10.50 from Newman-Hemisphere, 101 Swan Court, London SW3 5RY or phone: 07092 060530.

Web sites with further information about Francis Crick: http://hallucinogens.com/lsd/francis-crick.html and

http://www.accessexcellence.org/AE/AEC/CC/crick.html for A Visit With Dr. Francis Crick (1989 interview)

http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/en/genome/geneticsandsociety/hg13b001.html for The Wellcome Trust's biography.

http://peoplesarchive.com/ contains 90 stories (on video) recorded with Francis Crick not long before his death.

http://nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/1962/crick-bio.html (These biographical details are not entirely accurate.)

http://www.salk.edu/news/releases/details.php?id=103 for news of his death from his last employer, Salk Institute.

Web sites with further information about his co-Nobel Laureates:

http://www.cam.ac.uk/cambuniv/nobelprize.html see 1962 for details of the colleges of Watson, Crick, and Wilkins.

http://nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/1962/watson-bio.html for James Watson (born in 1928)

http://nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/1962/wilkins-bio.html for Maurice Wilkins (1916 to 2004)

Other web sites concerning Francis Crick's scientific career : http://www2.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/Francis.Crick.html

http://www2.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/ for The MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, England.

http://www.accessexcellence.org/AE/AEC/CC/crick.html for A Visit With Dr. Francis Crick (a good interview)

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/crick04/crick04_index.html for an extended obituary by V.S. Ramachanran

http://www.aip.org/pt/vol-56/iss-3/p42.html regarding Rosalind Franklin and the Double Helix by Lynne Elkin

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/depsta/iss/archives/dna/index.html the view of the DNA story from King's College, London

and see: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/dna/ for the 50th anniversary celebrations by King's College, London in 2003.

http://www2.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/dna2003/story.html Cambridge's view of DNA story (50 years of Double Helix)

http://osulibrary.orst.edu/specialcollections/coll/pauling/dna/index.html for Linus Pauling and the Race for DNA*

(*You would never guess from the above large web site -to begin with- that Linus Pauling 'lost' the race for DNA.)

http://www.cshl.org/public/SCIENCE/Watson.html for a biography of James D. Watson

http://www.scivon.com/about.html for D.N.A. related material, including the James D. Watson 'bobblehead' !

and finally from "The Daily Telegraph" (on 28.2.03) an article with interviews of all three of the 'D.N.A.' men:

for Watson: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/main.jhtml?xml=/connected/2003/02/28/ecfdna128.xml#1

for Crick: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/main.jhtml?xml=/connected/2003/02/28/ecfdna128.xml#2

By the same author: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/07/30/ncrick130.xml (30.7.04)

for Wilkins: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/main.jhtml?xml=/connected/2003/02/28/ecfdna128.xml#3



For a long, well-written obituary download: http://www.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/PAL/pdf/crick.pdf.(Current Biology: Vol 14, no. 16): but note that in the penultimate paragraph Rosalind Franklin died in 1958, and not 1957 as stated in error by the two authors.

or click on http://www2.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/archive/F.Crick.html and for much the same obituary from "The Independent":

http://www2.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/Crick_Obituary.pdf Unfortunately the pdf doesn't routinely work, so here is the full obituary:

Co-discoverer with James Watson of the structure of DNA

03 August 2004

Francis Harry Compton Crick, biologist: born Northampton 8 June 1916; staff, MRC Unit for Molecular Biology/ Laboratory of Molecular Biology 1949-77; FRS 1959; Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge 1960-61; Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (jointly) 1962; Non-Resident Fellow, Salk Institute for Biological Studies 1962-73, Ferkhauf Foundation Visiting Professor 1962-77, J.W. Kieckhefer Distinguished Professor 1977-2004, President 1994-95; OM 1991; married 1940 Ruth Dodd (one son; marriage dissolved 1947), 1949 Odile Speed (two daughters); died San Diego, California 28 July 2004. 

"Rather than believe that Watson and Crick made the DNA structure," wrote Francis Crick in 1974, "I would rather stress that the structure made Watson and Crick."

Francis Crick will be remembered as one of a small group of people who pioneered the revolution in our understanding of inheritance: how genetic information is coded in molecules and is then used to produce a living creature. Crick was seen, both by those inside and outside this group, as the intellectual genius at its heart.

Born in 1916 in Northampton, where his father had a shoe factory, he was educated at Northampton Grammar School, Mill Hill School and University College London, where he gained a middling degree in Physics. He continued there studying for a PhD with Edward Andrade, measuring the viscosity of water above its normal boiling point -- "the dullest problem imaginable". At the outbreak of the Second World War, he transferred to the Admiralty, designing magnetic and acoustic mines in which the circuitry would enable enemy ships and sweeps to be distinguished.

After the war, with his lab and apparatus in London fortunately destroyed by a land-mine, Crick realised that what interested him most was biology, especially the boundary between the living and non-living. His scientific naïveté turned out to be an advantage: he possessed no baggage but, for one starting out on a research career, he was unusually mature. He joined the Strangeways Laboratory in Cambridge in 1947 where, making use of his previous experiences, he studied the viscosity of the cytoplasm of cells by introducing into them small magnetic beads.

By early 1949, he had moved into town and joined Max Perutz and John Kendrew at the newly established Medical Research Council's Unit for the Study of the Molecular Structure of Biological Systems, in the Cavendish Laboratory. This group aimed to determine the structures of proteins by X-ray crystallography, Crick's project being to work on horse and ox haemoglobin. The unit had strong support from the Cavendish Professor Sir Lawrence Bragg who, with his father, had pioneered the use of X-rays for solving the structures of small molecules. To appreciate what came next, one must be aware of the emptiness in our understanding of inheritance at that time.

Geneticists had defined the existence of genes, abstract units of inheritance. Genes were widely believed to be made of proteins, perhaps with some nucleic acid included, although Oswald Avery and his colleagues in the United States had, by 1944, provided firm evidence that they were made of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). How could such information be accurately duplicated during cell division? Biochemists had discovered that the catalysts in our bodies - enzymes - are proteins, made of amino acid units in some sort of assembly. These accelerate all the chemical reactions of which life consists. But where these proteins came from, or where the information for them came from, was barely discussed.

Several milestones were then passed. The Cambridge biochemist Fred Sanger showed that insulin (a protein) had a unique linear amino acid sequence, being constructed from a standard set of 20 different kinds of amino acid. Alexander Todd and his colleagues, in Manchester and later in Cambridge, showed that DNA and its closely related RNA (ribonucleic acid) are linear molecules made of nucleotides, of which there are just four types: the DNA units all share the same backbone, but have one or other of the four bases A, C, G or T. (RNA molecules have almost the same four bases, A, C, G and U - U and T are very closely related - and a slightly modified backbone.)

While Crick started out working with Perutz on haemoglobin, his first theoretical contribution, with William Cochran and Vladimir Vand, was to calculate the X-ray pattern given by a helical molecule. At the time, protein crystallography seemed an impossible task and, when in 1951 James Watson joined the unit enthused about trying to find the structure of DNA, Crick was ready to change his focus.

The route by which they came to their celebrated model for the structure of DNA has been extensively analysed. The BBC later made a film, Life Story (1987, based in part on The Double Helix, Watson's best-selling "personal account" of 1968, with Tim Pigott-Smith as Crick and Jeff Goldblum as Watson), which provides an excellent history of the science and personalities surrounding their discovery. Suffice it to say that their success came from trying to build a model which would satisfy the many known chemical restraints, from a knowledge of unpublished X-ray studies of DNA by Rosalind Franklin, Raymond Gosling and Maurice Wilkins in London, from Crick's insight into his own helical diffraction theory and from Watson's discovery of how the bases could interact. Above all, they were hungry, eager to solve what they perceived to be the outstanding question of their time. And also, to deprive Linus Pauling of Pasadena, the doyen of theoretical chemistry, of that success.

Their model was published in Nature in April 1953. It consists of two DNA chains running in opposite directions and twisted around each other with base pairs in the middle - A with T, and G with C: the now familiar double helix. The specificity of the base pairing arises from the particular hydrogen bonds which each base can make only with its partner. This pairing also provided a basis for an earlier observation made by Erwin Chargaff at Columbia: by chemical analysis of DNA from different sources he found that the proportions of the bases varied from one organism to another, yet in each there seemed to be equal numbers of As and Ts, and of Gs and Cs. This fitted the proposed structure exactly.

At the end of one of the most profound scientific papers ever written, Watson and Crick added:

It has not escaped our attention that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.

This was added to pre-empt anyone else pointing out the obvious, and presaged their next paper, published five weeks later in Nature, which explained how the specific base pairing could provide a mechanism for gene - and information - duplication. In essence, each double helix contains the information twice, once in each strand. Separate the two strands and each can serve as a template for a new double helix.

With publication of the two papers, there was great excitement amongst the very few who saw their significance. The seismic upheaval which followed took about eight years to be noticed by the wider scientific community, including most biochemists. But during this interval powerful evidence in support of their model came from two sources: Matthew Meselson and Frank Stahl in 1957, then in Pasadena, showed that during replication the two strands of DNA are separated and each serves as a template for a new DNA molecule. And, in 1961, Arthur Kornberg and his colleagues at Stanford provided evidence for base pairing and that the two strands run in opposite directions (a requirement of the model).

Not only did their model indicate how genetic information might be multiplied, it also provided insight into the way genetic information might be encoded: as there was no informational content in DNA, other than the sequence of the bases in each chain, genetic information could only reside in that. This made thinking about how genes might be encoded much easier: a DNA molecule, known to be very long, could have a unique base sequence which might code in some way for the linear sequence of amino acids in proteins. A one-to-one relationship might exist, and this was formulated by Crick in 1957 as the "Sequence Hypothesis": the sequence of bases in a chain of DNA encodes the sequence of amino acids in proteins.

By now Crick was thinking about the genetic code: if the amino acid sequence of a protein is coded by the base sequence in DNA, what is the exact relationship? There seemed to be 20 different amino acids to be coded by just four bases. Also, as there are two DNA strands, do they both encode information? And how could Nature translate one molecule into another - on the face of it, a quite extraordinary concept.

The fact that amino acids and nucleotides are so different chemically led Crick to conclude that a nucleic acid presents little else than a shaped surface which can most easily be recognised by another nucleic acid, by Watson-Crick base pairing as it exists in DNA. He surmised therefore that, at the heart of the translation process, base pairing might also apply. He proposed his "Adaptor Hypothesis": that each amino acid to be built into a protein chain first becomes attached to a small nucleic acid molecule - a different one for each amino acid. These "adaptor" nucleic acids could then line up on the template nucleic acid by base pairing, so that each attached amino acid was brought to its correct place. In this way a unique nucleic acid sequence could determine a unique amino acid sequence. The lined-up amino acids could then become chemically joined to each other to yield a protein chain having a unique sequence.

Independently, and within a year, these adaptor nucleic acids were discovered by Mahlon Hoagland and Paul Zamecnik in Boston: they are small RNA molecules called "transfer RNAs" - they transfer the amino acids into the growing protein. This stunning insight by Crick was one of his greatest achievements.

The "coding problem" - the precise relationship between nucleotide sequence and amino acid sequence, was taking shape. There could not be a one-to-one correspondence, as no more than four amino acids could be encoded and a two-to-one correspondence could encode only 16 amino acids; there would have to be at least three bases for each amino acid, making 64 triplets for 20 amino acids.

A possible solution to this conundrum was first proposed by George Gamow of Washington in 1954, and others followed, including one by Crick, John Griffiths and Leslie Orgel: all were wrong. Until biochemical evidence came along in 1961, the guessing game was all one could do. The only substantial type of evidence which existed was that gleaned from mutations: for example, it was known that in patients having sickle-cell disease there is a change of a single amino acid (glutamic acid) for another (valine) in the haemoglobin sequence. If this change were the result of one base being altered to another, then a code-word for glutamic acid would be identical to that for valine except for one base.

In 1953-54 Crick had met Sydney Brenner, who had come from South Africa to Oxford to do a DPhil, and the two found themselves of similar minds on many scientific problems. Brenner joined the unit in 1957, sharing an office with Crick until 1977 when Crick moved to the Salk Institute. When two minds are focused on a problem, and look at the problem with similar prejudices of what is correct and what is not, conversations need no preliminaries. Both parties were wonderful conversationalists: Brenner read widely and remembered almost everything; Crick had the sharpest and most incisive way of arguing. They made a formidable pair.

Brenner was interested in solving problems through genetics; together with Alice Orgel, they published a paper on the "Theory of Mutagenesis". They distinguished two different kinds of mutagens, chemicals which induce mutations in DNA: those that induce the change of one base into another (as happens in sickle-cell disease) and those that insert an extra base into the DNA sequence. This latter class was called acridine mutations, after the chemical used as mutagen.

In 1961, three different discoveries led directly to how information flows from DNA into proteins and hence to the solution of the genetic code. Brenner, with François Jacob (of Paris) and Meselson, discovered a new intermediate which carries the information for making proteins from DNA to ribosomes, tiny particles in the cell. This intermediate is an RNA copy of one strand of a DNA and they named it messenger RNA.

The messenger carries the genetic message from DNA to ribosomes, and the ribosome - a complicated workbench - is where it is translated from the language of nucleic acids into that of proteins. The actual translation is effected by the transfer RNAs. Related experiments discovering messenger RNA were carried out simultaneously by a group at Harvard. According to Crick, the discovery of messenger RNA was the most important concept, after the structure of DNA, in establishing the framework of how information is held and expressed. With it, everything (save the detail) was in place.

Shortly after this, two workers at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Marshall Nirenberg and Heinrich Matthaei, discovered that, when a synthetic messenger RNA composed of a string of just one kind of base, U, (and called polyU) is added to a cell extract, a single kind of amino acid (phenylalanine) was built into the protein chain (to make polyphenylalanine). The artificial messenger had directed the synthesis of an artificial protein! And hence, the code-word, or codon, for the amino acid phenylalanine was a series of U bases.

In the meantime, Crick had set about constructing a series of acridine mutants. Late one night he discovered that, when three mutations are combined, the resulting gene behaved as if there were no mutation at all. This suggested that the genetic code was a triplet code and therefore that a codon for phenylalanine is UUU. These results were reported by Crick, Brenner, Leslie Barnett and Richard Watts-Tobin in Nature at the end of 1961. This is one of the finest papers ever published in genetics: its scope is remarkable. From a study of the behaviour of certain mutants, the general molecular nature of the genetic code had been deduced.

A more detailed paper was published some four years later. In this, a minor technical mistake made in the earlier paper was recorded "due to the inexperience of one of us (FHCC)". After 1961, a complete and detailed elucidation of the code was simply a matter of time; it was largely achieved in the United States by biochemists using increasingly complex synthetic messenger RNAs and determining the nature of the proteins they encoded.

In this area, there remained one last important problem for Crick to solve: a problem which no one else even recognised. How do the adaptor RNAs, or transfer RNAs, actually recognise the messenger RNA? Everyone assumed it would be by standard Watson-Crick base-pairing. Actually, Crick showed that there is a modified recognition process at work, a somewhat downgraded form of standard base-pairing. He called this the "Wobble Hypothesis" and we now know that it accurately describes the molecular interactions that occur.

Thus ended a personal quest for solving how genetic information is held and translated. This was celebrated by a Symposium on the Genetic Code at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island in the summer of 1966, presided over by Jim Watson. It was a joyous occasion, Francis Crick at the peak of his powers, delivering a historical introduction which was rapturously received. There, for his 50th birthday, he was presented with a huge package out of which popped a lightly clad young woman. Embarrassed, Crick laughed it off; he was known (from his entry in Who's Who) to enjoy "conversation, especially with pretty women".

The next few years were spent looking for a new problem suited to his way of thinking. He worked with the Cambridge developmental biologist Peter Lawrence on the idea of concentration gradients of "morphogens" and how they might control patterning in development. He thought about the highly folded form of DNA found in chromosomes and published an important paper on the theory of DNA supercoiling.

In 1949 he had married Odile Speed, a French artist, who was to remain a mainstay throughout his complex life. Together, they moved in 1977 to La Jolla, where Crick took up a post at the Salk Institute. He had always been interested in how the brain works and now he decided to work on that. His particular interest became: how is it that we are aware of things, what sort of neural circuits are needed? How do the known existing layers of neurons in the brain, and possibly unknown ones, contribute to our sense of consciousness? In this he collaborated extensively with Kristof Koch and published a book, The Astonishing Hypothesis: the scientific search for the soul (1994), whose aim is to explain how "each of us is the behaviour of a vast, interacting set of neurons". He continued reading and thinking about this right up to his death.

Crick's fascination with how genes work, or how the brain functions, grew out of his loathing of the irrational. He was deeply consumed by the questions, "Why are we here?", "How did we get here?" He abhorred mysticism and religion. He joked about Molecular Theology: he was sure that in the future there would be university departments trying to understand what special neural connections might be made by prayer. He enjoyed speculating about the origins of life: maybe life came here from outer space, by panspermia, so, how big would a spacecraft have to be, what sort of shielding to protect the occupants from radiation damage, and so on.

As a scientist, and as the leading theoretical biologist of our time, he had a healthy scepticism of theoreticians. Too often, he felt, theoreticians like to make their theories fit the facts. For him, a good theory would take the few essential facts - only

those one could be sure were right - and, with some ingenious new view of the problem, suggest a different way of looking at it; a way which, to be useful, would have to make unexpected predictions. He felt that good experiments were worth a lot of theory and, as such, was especially careful to give those individuals who had done the work at the bench due recognition. He was scrupulously fair and never added his name to his colleagues' papers, a generous trait he shared with Watson, unless without his ideas the work would never have been conceived. It is the individual who makes a discovery; a new way of thinking about a problem rarely comes from a group. Honours to him were an obstacle to communication with one's peers.

Francis Crick's greatest assets were his curiosity and ruthless intellect. At seminars or meetings, it was often he alone who saw the point of a question, and he would not hesitate to rephrase it, if he thought it unclear. He could be uncharacteristically mean to a pompous speaker; his presence at meetings made sure everyone was on their toes. He had a fine sense for aesthetic elegance, reflected in his scientific discoveries and writing. His wonderful humour, accompanied by a somewhat raucous laugh, was infectious. He was a great entertainer. In dress, he was always careful, well groomed, usually with a colourful tie and always enjoying life.

In early 1962 the unit in the Cavendish closed and the new MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology was opened by the Queen. In October that year a succession of Thursdays brought home to all the achievements of the members of the laboratory. The first Thursday, Crick and Watson shared the Leopold Mayer Prize, their first substantial award. The following Thursday, news came that Kendrew and Perutz were to share that year's Nobel Prize for Chemistry. On the third Thursday, Crick, Watson and Wilkins shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

That evening there was champagne at the Golden Helix, Francis and Odile Crick's home in central Cambridge. A thoughtful American came loaded with a box of fireworks - it was five days before Guy Fawkes Night. Late in the evening these were taken up the five flights to the Cricks' roof garden; there, the rockets were lit and released over Cambridge. Others at the party scaled the tiled roof and, holding on to chimney pots, lit bangers and tossed them into Portugal Place below. Francis was downstairs, unaware of all this. However, a policeman shortly arrived. He had been sent to investigate a complaint that bangs were disturbing a neighbour's greyhounds. Francis, at the front door, deployed all his diplomatic skills and his exquisite charm. He explained to the policeman what a special occasion it was, how he would be able to read about it all in the papers the next day, how he would personally make sure that there were no more bangs.

In no time at all, the policeman was inside the house, helmet off and sipping a glass of champagne.

Mark S. Bretscher

Another good obituary (not Acrobat Reader format) is on: http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v7/n10/full/nn1004-1027.html :

ps If you still don't understand what all the fuss over the discovery of the structure of DNA was about, try this URL and the next 14 pages: http://www.phy.cam.ac.uk/camphy/dna/dna1_1.htm from www.cambridgephysics.com


THE BEST ONE PAGE GUIDE TO BOOKS ABOUT D.N.A. IS: http://www.ncbe.reading.ac.uk/DNA50/reviews.html

Francis Crick Graduate Lectures (see the two URL's below for details)



"For my generation, Francis Crick was probably the most obviously influential presence. He was often at lunch in the canteen of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology where he liked to explain what he was thinking about, and he was always careful to make sure that everyone round the table really understood. He was a frequent presence at talks in and around Cambridge, where he liked to ask questions. Sometimes, I remember thinking, they seemed slightly ignorant questions to which a man of his extraordinary range and ability ought to have known the answers. Only slowly did it dawn on me that he only and always asked questions when he was unclear or unsure, a great lesson." (Tim Hunt, first Francis Crick Graduate Lecturer: June 2005)

The Francis Crick Prize Lecture has been established in 2003 following an endowment by Sir Sydney Brenner, joint winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. The lecture will be delivered annually in any field of biological sciences, with preference given to the areas Francis Crick worked himself. Importantly, the lectureship is aimed at younger scientists, ideally under 40, or whose career progression corresponds to this age. The Royal Society's 2005 Francis Crick Prize Lecture: was "The Puppet Master: How the brain controls the body" by Professor Daniel Wolpert (University of Cambridge);for more information, see: www.royalsoc.ac.uk/live

"The effortless ease with which humans move our arms, our eyes, even our lips when we speak masks the true complexity of the control processes involved. This is evident when we try to build machines to perform human control tasks. While computers can now beat grandmasters at chess, no computer can yet control a robot to manipulate a chess piece with the dexterity of a six-year-old child. A major factor that makes control hard is the uncertainty inherent in the world and in our own sensory and motor systems. Daniel Wolpert will explain how the brain deals with this and demonstrate that a key feature of skilled human motor performance is the ability of the brain to perform optimally in the presence of uncertainty."

THE SITE IS MAINTAINED BY MARTIN PACKER: martin@packer34.freeserve.co.uk LAST UPDATED 17.5.06

"How is Cambridge? Is the cold wind blowing across the fens, frisking up the waters of the Cam, whistling through the barbed wire on college walls, rattling the chain padlocks on college gates and causing a healthy glow to appear in the faces of bedmakers and undergraduates scurrying across the cobbles to the college bathroom? Is it blowing in under the door of the Strangeways, congealing the culture media and causing all honest amphibians to hibernate?" (MHF Wilkins,1948? to Crick; Olby, 1974; pp 353).

"D.N.A. Genesis of a Discovery", edited by Seweryn Chomet, (pub. by Newman-Hemisphere in 1995) 150 pp.: @ £10.50 from Newman-Hemisphere, 101 Swan Court, Chelsea, London SW3 5RY or phone/fax: 07092 060530