Linus Pauling and the Race for DNA: A Documentary History All Documents and Media  
Home | Search | Narrative | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day

All Documents and Media

"The DNA Story."

"The DNA Story." 1973.
Created by VSM Productions. Produced by Ronald Fouracre and Peter Shaw. Distributed by John Wiley & Sons, London, New York.

A Triumph of "Brain Work" and Good Fortune. (2:22)


James Watson: Francis, do you think we were lucky to have solved it? Or was it real brain work on our part?

Francis Crick: Well, I guess that we were certainly lucky. Of course, you give the impression, Jim, that we really didn't do too much thinking. But, we were lucky I think for two reasons; we were thinking about the problem at the right time, and then the two of us, by collaborating, if one of us got on the wrong track, one of us could get us out of it. If I thought there were three chains at one stage, you were sure there were two. If you thought the phosphates had to be in the middle, then I'd be the devil's advocate, and say "put them on the outside." I think that this is very important in solving structures of this kind.

The difficult part is that you have to get several logical steps, one after the other. If you're wrong, one person gets too fond of their own ideas. I think the other thing good about our collaboration was that we weren't the least bit afraid of being candid to each other, to the point of being rude. If you have constant interchange and chatting together and saying what you think of the other person's ideas to their face, I know that you can solve problems of this kind.

James Watson: I've often had the thought, in a slightly different way, that if either of us were two years older or two years younger - at least in my case - I never would have solved it. We had to be there just at that particular time.

Francis Crick: There is a myth, of course, that goes around you know, that Jim was the biologist and did the biological part, and that I was the crystallographer, and I did the crystallographic part. That just won't stand up to critical examination. The business of the one to one and replication was really something I spotted with John Griffith. The way the bases went together, which was really pure crystallography, which you might have thought I had done, was done by Jim.

This is, I think, the importance of the collaboration. We sort of pooled the way we looked at things. We didn't leave it so that Jim did the biology and I did the physics. We both did it together, and switched roles, and criticized each other, and this gave us a great advantage over the other people trying to solve it.


Creator: Francis Crick, James D. Watson
Associated: John S. Griffith
Clip ID: 1973v.3-lucky

Full Work

Creator: VSM Productions, Ronald Fouracre, Peter Shaw
Associated: Linus Pauling, Francis Crick, James D. Watson, Maurice Wilkins

Date: 1973
Genre: video
ID: 1973v.3
Copyright: More Information

Previous Video Clip 
   Building a Model of DNA.

Home | Search | Narrative | Linus Pauling Day-By-Day