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.