Max Perutz: When I saw the alpha-helix and saw what a beautiful, elegant structure it was, I
was thunderstruck and was furious with myself for not having built this, but on the
other hand, I wondered, was it really right?
So I cycled home for lunch and was so preoccupied with the turmoil in my mind that
didn’t respond to anything. Then I had an idea, so I cycled back to the lab. I realized
that I had a horse hair in a drawer. I set it up on the X-ray camera and gave it a
two hour exposure, then took the film to the dark room with my heart in my mouth,
wondering what it showed, and when I developed it, there was the 1.5 angstrom reflection
which I had predicted and which excluded all structures other than the alpha-helix.
So on Monday morning I stormed into my professor’s office, into Bragg’s office and
showed him this, and Bragg said, "Whatever made you think of that?" And I said, "Because
I was so furious with myself for having missed that beautiful structure." To which
Bragg replied coldly, "I wish I had made you angry earlier."