Dear Dr. Pauling: Sunday, Nov. 9
I don't know how much of what is currently going on around here you did not get to
talk over when you were here, so some of things in this newsletter may be old stuff,
but anyway, here goes. Francis Crick has been working over an idea he has, and has
written a letter to "Nature" entitled "Is α-Keratin a Coiled Coil?". This has
to do with a central α-helix surrounded by some more of the same which are helical
helices, with pitch just right to explain the meridional reflections which the α-helix
does not. Max sent it to the editor with a covering letter requesting high speed publication,
so he must think it's pretty hot stuff, although Bragg apparently isn't too keen on
the idea. I must confess that I haven't looked into the matter very thoroughly,
mostly because it's rather hard to follow Crick's mercurial arguments, and anyway,
the whole thing isn't on a very quantitative basis as yet.
The London meeting celebrating the 40th anniversary of x-ray diffraction was most
interesting. Bragg gave the final paper, concerned with his & Max's progress with
hemoglobin. They have done ever so much more than described in their Proc. Roy.
Soc. paper, the one with the trains, and now have an array in the (hCl) plane going
up to about h=12, each line of constant h having a possible curve, or its negative,
following the molecular transform. As yet they have no form giving information between
the h lines, thus the ambiguity for each line, and a total number of possibilities
of 2h . Max isn't quite satisfied with the accuracy of some of the data, so the drawing
of the nodes and loops is considered provisional. They have not, so far as I know,
made any of the projections for the possibilities which they think are more probable.
Max rediscovered a missing shrinking stage last week, and this may give more useful
data. I am photographing crystals of sheep metHb which I grew myself, starting with
the sheep. This, it is hoped,will give some values between the h-lines.
I have been talking over with Prof. Sutton the possibility of extending the interatomic
distance tables to include x-ray results. We agreed that it was a good idea, and
now have to decide where to draw the line. Furthermore he has to clear my participation
with Kathleen Lonsdale, who once had a student working on it, but said student didn't
really do any work, and wasn't reliable anyway, nevertheless she must be allowed
to give her release. Nothing is straightforwardly simple in this country.
With regard to next year, I am still interested in the Berkeley proposition, but it
seemed to me that in his last letter Prof. Stanley wasn't too encouraging. It may
just be his way of saying things, so I shall be very interested in any impressions
you have had in your talks with him about me. If the Berkeley job could develop into
something permanent, that would of course be very nice, and if it definitely could
not, I don't think that I would be too interested.
I have also been doing some more work on Dyer's compound, his cysteylglycine sodium
iodide with the non-planar peptide group. I have a structure with everything orthodox,
but am now faced with the prospect of calculating the F's by hand (they are complex).
This project may come in handy, however, on those long dark winter evenings.
Peter, who may have written about his bathtub arrangements, has a standing invitation
to use our bathroom here at the house, but he hasn't taken advantage of it yet.
I do not think that this means that he has not yet taken a bath, as the days have
been relatively warm until quite recently. We were all going to throw a party here,
on the 5th, in case the election came out right. So, in place of the party the prospective