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The Oswald T. Avery Collection

Letter from Joshua Lederberg to Martin R. Pollock pdf (58,398 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Joshua Lederberg to Martin R. Pollock
In this memo, Lederberg replied to an inquiry made by Pollock in his last letter.
Item is a photocopy.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (58,398 Bytes)
1972-11-28 (November 28, 1972)
Lederberg, Joshua
Pollock, Martin R.
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Transformation, Genetic
Exhibit Category:
After the Discovery: The Transforming Principle's Reception by the Scientific Community
Metadata Record Letter from Martin R. Pollock to Joshua Lederberg (November 23, 1972) pdf (112,137 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Metadata Record Letter from Joshua Lederberg to Martin R. Pollock (November 20, 1972) pdf (48,813 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Box Number: 5
Folder Number: 2
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Commentary on Avery and His Work, 1944-2005
SubSeries: Inquiries on Avery
Folder: Lederberg Inquiries, 1962, 1972-1978
Memo from Joshua Lederberg
To: Martin
NOV 28 1972
Many thanks.
Why was Hershey and Chase such a hit?
Because it was a first class theory, which a great deal of face validity, that tied together many miscellaneous facts (see, obviously, PATOOMB) concerned with the faddish material; and also there was an experiment that was quite elegant, and did not contradict the theory, even if it did not constitute the sharpest possible test of it.
We have to recall what a dogmatic, abstract model of phage that Max had been promulgating; this was being nibbled around the edges by things like 1) lysogeny, 2) recombination -- contra a mysterious influence from without, and 3) Seymour Cohen's and other heretics' chemical studies, The time was ripe for a revolution (into biochemistry); and the Hershey-Chase expt. gave a push of just the right dimensions to allow a reconciliation of old and new ideas through the transition. It would have been merely confusing if some protein had still been identified with the phage injectate; it could still have been shown that this was progressively diluted, in proportion to DNA, in further cycles.
See PATOOMB p. 102 for Herriott's letter, typifying how DNA transformation gave courage to ideas of a separate genetic substance.
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