Watson mentioned his first attempts to produce X-ray images of crystals of ribonucleic acid (RNA) after his arrival at the
California Institute of Technology in the summer of 1953. Among other scientists he mentioned Christian Anfinsen in this
letter, calling him "the most productive protein chemist in the States," as well as Richard Feynman, the theoretical
physicist, who showed great interest in the double helix (as indeed several physicists did, including George Gamow, also mentioned
in the letter) and in the genetic code, and who conducted some experiments with DNA himself. Moreover, Watson reported that
the famous chemist Linus Pauling was still being denied a passport because of his peace activism.
NOTE: The date on the letter is a mistake by Watson, due to the new year. This letter was written in 1954, not 1953.
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (535,016 Bytes)
14 January 1954
Watson, James D.
Original Repository: Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine. Francis Harry Compton Crick Papers
About reprints: 100 is sufficient for me -- About payment -- do you think the MRC would pay for them -- possibly out of my
ancient funds -- there should still be some left over. If not I will send you a check for 2-7-5.
About Crane -- his address is Dept. of Physics -- University of Michigan -- his initials are H.R. I do not have a reprint.
Gamov was fun -- Did you see Anfinson [sic] -- I am impressed by him -- I think him to be the most productive protein chemist
in the states. It is very nice that he is working on ribonuclease.
Our RNA fibres [sic] give fibre [sic] photographs -- still very fuzzy (nature of speciman [sic]?) but I think we will do better.
As yet unable to determine fibre repeat. Because of long
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exposure times and paucity of windows. it will probably be several monthes [sic] before picture becomes clear. Nevertheless
Feynmann [sic] is also interested in DNA and RNA. -- have spent much of last 5 days talking with him. He thinks faster than
anything I have ever met. -- always sees the point -- he suggests following title for article -- "Mystery of Life remains
Unravelled [sic]." I am now more stimulated than at any time since my return to the states. He is really fantastic.
Pauling is not in India -- in fact in Pasadena -- No passport -- The bloody buggers -- Still very hush-hush -- he does not
want it publicized
This will probably be my last note before Odile returns to England. Naturally my very best wishes for a smooth crossing