In this letter, written after reading Crick's book, Of Molecules and Men (1966), Kornberg expressed concern about the
state of science education in the United States, especially in the field of biology.
Item is handwritten.
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2 (470,690 Bytes)
1967-03-24 (March 24, 1967)
Original Repository: Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine. Francis Harry Compton Crick Papers
I read your little book on vitalism last night and want to tell you that I really enjoyed it.
I admire your courage and candor in disposing of the latest crop of vitalists among the physicists. The supply from that source
is astonishing. I gave a talk on religion in a congress series here last year and got the most troubled and heated response
from a young chemical physicist. Evolution of homing patterns in birds was too much for him and he felt more secure with Creation.
What can we do about this terrible ignorance of modern biology? A major scandal of the humanities and science curricula at
our best colleges is that at least
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two-thirds of the students never take a course in modern biology. Many usually dispose of their sciences requirements with
a course in geology, anthropology or psychology. I'd guess the percentage not taking biology is highest among phys. sci.
majors. The Biol. Sci. Curriculum, which has been taught in our high schools for five or more years has been an improvement
but far from revolutionary. How can we teach biology to school children without qualified teachers?
There has been a rash of discoveries of enzymes that join DNA strands. One in uninfected E. coli discovered by Gellert at
NIH and by Lehman here requires a cofactor which is not a nucleotide phosphate. Another in T4-infected cells (discovered by
Richardson, by Huwirtz and locally too) requires only ATP.
We're investing our venture capital in Spores [?] and membranes.