Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Commonplace Entry

This weeks entry comes from The Double Helix: A Personal Account 
of the Discovery of THE STRUCTURE OF DNA by James D. Watson

The final refinements of the coordinates were finished the following evening. Lacking the exact X-ray evidence, we were not confident that the configuration chosen was precisely correct. But this did not bother us, for we only wished to establish that at least one specific two-chain complementary helix was stereochemically possible. Until this was clear, the objection could be raised that, although our idea was aesthetically elegant, the shape of the sugar-phosphate backbone might not permit its existence. Happily, now we knew that this was not true, and so we had lunch, telling each other that a structure this pretty had to exist. (p 205)

The Double Helix by James D. Watson. Touchstone Editions, New York. 2001 (1968)


@parridhlantern said...

It must have been nice to know that something you considered aesthetically pleasing, had some validity.

James said...

Watson's memoir is a delight to read. It is an unusual combination of scientific insights based on his imaginative genius (and some of his very intelligent colleagues like Crick, Pauling et. al.) interspersed with personal reminiscences. A great book.