"Crick and Watson are very different. Watson is now a very able, effective administrator.
In that respect he represents the American entrepreneurial type very well. Crick is
very different: brighter than Watson, but he talks a lot, and so he talks a lot of
Erwin Chargaff. American Philosophical Society oral history interview. 1972.
"So far as I could make out, they wanted, unencumbered by any knowledge of the chemistry
involved, to fit DNA into a helix. The main reason seemed to be Pauling's alpha-helix
model of a protein....I told them all I knew. If they had heard before about the pairing
rules, they concealed it. But as they did not seem to know much about anything, I
was not unduly surprised. I mentioned our early attempts to explain the complementarity
relationships by the assumption that, in the nucleic acid chain, adenylic was always
next to thymidylic acid and cytidylic next to guanylic acid....I believe that the
double-stranded model of DNA came about as a consequence of our conversation; but
such things are only susceptible of a later judgment...."
Erwin Chargaff. Heraclitean Fire. 1978.
"This observation of complementarity, later called Chargaff's ratios, was essential
to the solution of DNA's structure. In hindsight, the complementary pairing of the
nucleotides powerfully suggested that a DNA molecule could break into two parts. Only
complementary bases could form bonds and line up in place in a new DNA strand."
Erwin Chargaff. Interview with Erwin Chargaff, OMNI, 7, no. 9 (June 1985): 100. June 1985.
Omni: Surely great men, even today, don't watch much TV or hang on the telephone?
"There are no such men today. We have created a mechanism that makes it practically
impossible for a real genius to appear. In my own field the biochemist Fritz Lipmann
or the much maligned Linus Pauling were very talented people. But generally, geniuses
everywhere seem to have died out by 1914. Today, most are mediocrities blown up by
the winds of the time."
Erwin Chargaff. Interview with Erwin Chargaff, OMNI, 7, no. 9 (June 1985): 128. June 1985.
"Pairing I used later, translating my word into what had become a slogan. I did not
say they were in a double structure, no. That is Crick and Watson. The helix is a
gimcrack. The fact that it is double is important because it is an automatic way of
reproduction. I never claimed it was my idea, and I don't wish to."
Erwin Chargaff. Interview with Erwin Chargaff, OMNI, 7, no. 9 (June 1985): 132. June 1985.
"In my opinion present-day science, especially biological science, is a direct symptom
of the decline of the west--all this shameless talk about creating and multiplying
will be put down as the barbarism of the 20th century."
Erwin Chargaff. Erwin Chargaff oral history interview, American Philosophical Society 97, Spri.
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