from 2 y ago when Crick died - an obit by an actual scientist
(which Matt Ridley is not), and some introductory remarks I added at
I never met
Crick, but have several friends who knew him.
own observation, I'm afraid his influence on molecular biology was
malign. A bullying type, he persisted with what he grandly
called his Central Dogma - the assertion that information
passes in a ONE-WAY flow from DNA to RNA to protein. This was
refuted by Commoner in Nature and American Scientist in
the late 1960s but Crick kept asserting it, thus declaring that he was
an outlaw of science. Similarly, he kept insisting that only his
double helix could describe the secondary structure (short-range
folding) of duplex DNA, when variety in DNA 2° structure had been
autobiography 'What Mad Pursuit' devotes a couple pp to dismissive
remarks about these additional structures, without so much as
mentioning a name of any of their originators in PNAS -
the NZ group of Rodley & Bates, and the Indian group of
Sasisekharan (later @ MIT).
of Crick's later ideas, as outlined by Krug, were excellent. But
his dogmatic bullying style did much harm in distorting the
development of molecular biology.
>Frances Crick was an exceptional person, like JD Watson he had
>peculiar programs , one was declaring infants born and human only
>end of their first year of life. Crick, nevertheless avoided
>Watson's fatuous and wrong comments on GM food.
>July 29, 2004
>Francis Crick dies
>The master of science and arguably the founder of molecular
>88 | By Pete Moore
>Francis Crick, known for his discovery with James Watson of the
>helix but described as a biologist colleague as "the absolute
>a way that nobody else in that generation was," died
yesterday (July 28)
>in San Diego, California. He was 88.
>"If all you think of with Francis Crick is the double helix,
>don't know the man," Crick's Cambridge contemporary and Nobel
>winner Aaron Klug told The Scientist. Although Crick did
perform many of
>the intellectual somersaults that revealed DNA's double helix -
>which he shared the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine -
>was only one of the world-changing discoveries that littered his
>according to Klug. While many of his achievements are now so
>that they are the stuff of the school curriculum, in their time
>the pinnacle of scientific achievement.
>Born on June 8, 1916 in Northampton, UK, Francis Harry Compton
>1937 got a degree in physics at University College London,
>spending World War II devising ways of sweeping German magnetic
>for the British Admiralty, and designing circuits for British
>and acoustic mines. During the war he also married Ruth
Dodd, and the
>couple had a son, Michael.
>Around the time that the war ended, so too did his marriage. In
>married Odile Speed, and the couple had two daughters, Gabrielle
>Jacqueline. 1947 also marked a significant change in his
>as Crick moved to Strangeways Laboratory, Cambridge, where he
>the physical properties of cytoplasm in cultured fibroblast cells,
>task he found intellectually limiting.
>"He always knew who to go and talk to about problems,"
>Cambridge physiologist Horace Barlow. "He sought me out
because he knew
>that I was interested in neuroscience. He was already
working on a
>problem in cell biology, but he didn't think it was very important
>he wanted to do was get that finished with. He wondered
whether to go
>After much thought, Crick headed for what is now called
>biology. "He took his choice - and he was
obviously right. He could have
>persuaded me to go into molecular biology, but I was such a
>chemist," Barlow said. So, in 1949 Crick joined the
>Council research group in Cambridge. He wanted to bring
science to the
>mysteries at the border between living and non-living. The
team was led
>by Max Perutz, and Crick worked on protein structure, ending
up doing a
>PhD on X-ray diffraction of proteins.
>In 1951 James Watson arrived in Cambridge fresh from receiving his
>at Indiana University in Bloomington, and the two instantly
>forces. Crick once said that their collaboration worked
>they were never afraid to rigorously question each other's ideas,
>the result was their Nature paper on April 25, 1953 that revealed
>structure of DNA.
>In 1957 Crick became excited about the Central Dogma, his theory
>DNA passed its information to RNA, and this was then used to
>specific proteins. "Watson had something similar in his
>Crick went around preaching it as certainty," said Richard
>who first met Crick when he joined the Cambridge team as a PhD
>in 1966. Then came the 'adapter hypothesis,' in which Crick
>that small molecules were involved in translating the RNA
>into amino acids. These adapters turned out to be tRNA.
>In 1958 he published a paper with his student David Blow in which
>showed how to determine the structure of proteins using heavy
>derivatives. "The method dominated the field for
>Henderson, and Crick's 1959 election as a Fellow of the Royal
>confirmed his status in the field.
>Crick began studying structure and function of histones in 1960.
>time, he thought that histones held the two chains of DNA apart
>transcription. "That was wrong," Klug said, "but
what Crick realized was
>that the 25 different histones were post-synthetic variants of
>turned out to be 5) major types of histones."
>The triplet codon became his next target, in 1966. Working
>Brenner, Crick determined that each amino acid in a protein
>three bases in the genetic code. "That is the most
>paper," Klug said.
>Crick then came up with the wobble hypothesis. This
theorized that while
>the first two bases in a triplet were always stringently
>during tRNA's binding with mRNA, the third one was often less
>followed ñ there was an element of 'wobble' in the way that the
>translated into protein.
>With thirty years of experience in molecular biology, and some 87
>bearing his name, Crick made a radical shift in 1977. A
>colleague, Leslie Orgel, persuaded him to move to the Salk
>la Jolla, California, where he started studying neurobiology.
>he was the most brilliant guy, and it would be intellectually
>stimulating for all of us to have him around," Orgel told The
>With Graeme Mitchison, he investigated dreams, suggesting they
>mechanisms for clearing out the debris of unwanted experience.
>Orgel, he toyed with Panspermia - the theory that life developed
>far away planet and arrived on earth aboard a spaceship. But
it was his
>interest in determining the neuronal correlates of consciousness
>was his main passion over the following three decades.
"He had a big
>influence in the Salk in building up their neuroscience program.
>now probably the foremost centre in the States, if not the
>"When he started his work on consciousness, this was
>neuroscientist wanted to touch, it was not respectable," said
>Poggio, professor of vision sciences and biophysics at MIT.
"Now he has
>managed to make it work, to ask scientific questions about it
>encourage others to do experiments on it. So, I think it has
>Starting in 1984, Crick started working extensively with
>Christof Koch, and together they co-authored most of Crick's
>associated with neuroscience. "Our theory was that
>involves specific neurons, firing in a specific way and sitting in
>specific part of the brain," Koch told The Scientist.
Their work focused
>on the visual system, and their working hypothesis is that while
>primary visual cortex is important for vision, it does not
>ultimate conscious perception ñ in other words, the correlates
>in the primary visual cortex.
>Back in Cambridge his absence was noted ñ particularly in
>he gained a reputation for grilling presenters. "He gave no
>said Klug. "He subjected you to criticism and expected you to
>though he was fairly kindly to young people. He didn't suffer
>kindly - that sums him up."
>Crick's scientific method was rigorous. According to Klug,
he learned it
>>from the professor in charge of the Cambridge laboratory when
>first arrived. He learnt sift though vast mounds of information
>identify the reliable data. "He could reduce it to its
>Klug. "Then he was in a position to design experiments
to test it, or
>else look for pieces of evidence from other people's
>"Crick said to me in the early 70s that it difficult to
>problem that would not be solved in 25 years," said Michael
>Stanford University, California. For Crick, he said, the
>correctly formulating the question. For example, in 1998 he wrote
>paper with Koch in which he sets out his rational for tackling the
>of consciousness. He beings by defining a few critical
questions, at the
>same time as listing areas that are not worth approaching,
>science is not ready to formulate questions.
>"He was intellectually penetrating and rational, in a way
that has been
>more successful than anyone else," Orgel said. This
>frequently to be decades ahead of the game. "He worked
out the coil-coil
>structure of proteins before he sorted out DNA, but no one took
>notice of it until a few years ago when it was shown to be quite
>ñ I thought that was really fun."
>Links for this article
>Francis Crick 1962 Nobel biography
>James Watson Nobel biography
>Sydney Brenner Nobel biography
>Tomaso Poggio homepage
>Crick/Koch 1998 paper