10 February 1953
Dr. Jerry Donohue
I am glad to have the list of interatomic distances. I have found out that Dr. Yakel
has a complete list of interatomic distances for the 3.60-residue α helix. He has
carried this out through five turns of the helix. I shall ask him to check your
list item by item, to see whether he agrees with you. I know that the values that
he has differ a little bit from the values used in our calculation, which, however,
corresponded to a helix with 3.67 residues per turn, and perhaps the coordinates were
a little bit different too. Yakel said that in general the disagreement was only
I shall look forward to seeing your manuscript on the helical structures.
I enclose a copy of my Solvay Congress paper, without the figures, however - I don't
think that the lack of the figures will bother you.
As to the nucleic acid structure, I don't see any reason for it to be unsatisfactory
as a structure for the nucleate ion, except of course that the negative charges are
closer together than they would be if the phosphate groups were on the outside of
the molecule, rather than near the axis. In any ease, hydrogen bonds are pretty
weak, and a structure held together just by hydrogen bonds might not be satisfactory.
The three chains in our structure are tucked together almost too tightly and bound
by the sugar residues.
I don't think that there is any use in trying to decide on substances tor you to investigate
in connection with the work on nucleotides, until you get here next fall. I may
say that I think, in view of your interest in settling permanently in California,
that you should consider a job at U.S.C. seriously. My opinion of bids school has
gone up, especially since the new chemistry laboratory has been constructed. The
availability of government money for support of research makes the attractiveness
of a job at U.S.C. greater than it was before the war. I don't think that there
is any possibility of a permanent appointment here at the Institute, and it seems
to me that if you are going to take a job at U.S.C. it would be better to take it
now than a year later - you would have that much more seniority, for one thing.
I hope that you will be back by 20 September 1953, in order to take part in the conference
on the configuration of polypeptide chains in proteins.
I have expressed again to the Guggenheim foundation my strong feeling that the amount
of the stipend awarded in some cases, including your case, is too small. I think
that the thing for you to do now is to write to the Guggenheim Foundation, sending
them a breakdown of your expenses somewhat like the one that you have enclosed with
your letter, pointing out that the cost of living and traveling has turned out to
be greater than you had anticipated, and asking if an additional grant can be made
to you. I do not know what will be done - I am not on the board this year.
I shall be in Cambridge from Saturday to Tuesday, according to present plans, and
I should have time for a good talk with you.
With best regards, I am