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Interview with Matthew Meselson.
 
Interview with Matthew Meselson. November 1, 1991.
Interview by Thomas Hager for use in "Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling," (Simon & Schuster, 1995).

Pauling's Huge Impact on Molecular Biology. (1:44)

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Matthew Meselson: But that whole approach of Linus - of structure, of weak forces, of detailed complementarity, of fitting together - I think that emphasis, which was coming so much more from Linus than from anybody else, was very very important. Then of course there's a whole series of things, I don't know where to start. For example, the notion that hemoglobin was a molecular disease, leading eventually to the discovery that it was a single amino acid change, but at least it was some kind of chemical change in a single molecule, zeroing in, and since the genetics was already known, of course it had been known that one gene/one enzyme, that was known. But what do genes do to enzymes? The notion that they determine their primary structure was by no means clear, and much debated. Now whether the hemoglobin story made people realize that there must be an amino acid change and not some folding change, I think that must have been clear, but I’d have to go back and read.

Then, the whole structure of the alpha helix and the pleated sheet, those have been very important, not only important in themselves, but exemplifying again, the success of structural chemistry. And of model building. Linus pioneered, with Corey, model building. It was outrageous to build models, it violated the purity of mathematical extremists, but that's what he did, and of course that was the whole paradigm for how Watson and Crick worked. They didn't really do x-ray crystallography at all, they took a few hints from the available x-ray diffraction diagrams, and then played with models. That whole approach was Linus.

Clip

Creator: Thomas Hager, Matthew Meselson
Associated: Robert Corey, Linus Pauling, James D. Watson, Francis Crick
Clip ID: hager2.003.2-impact

Full Work

Creator: Thomas Hager, Matthew Meselson

Date: November 1, 1991
Genre: sound
ID: hager2.003.2
Copyright: More Information


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