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The Francis Crick Papers

Letter from James D. Watson to Francis Crick pdf (487,647 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from James D. Watson to Francis Crick
Item is handwritten. Item is a photocopy.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (487,647 Bytes)
1953-11-12 (November 12, 1953)
Watson, James D.
Crick, Francis
Original Repository: Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine. Francis Harry Compton Crick Papers
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Reproduced with permission of James D. Watson.
Exhibit Category:
The Discovery of the Double Helix, 1951-1953
Box Number: 72
Folder Number: PP/CRI/H/1/42/3
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Notes and Drafts
SubSeries: Notes and Drafts 1950-1955
SubSubSeries: [Miscellaneous Papers Photocopied by Aaron Klug]
Folder: [Letters to Crick from James Watson]
November 12, 1953
Dear Francis
I hear from John that you are thinking about coming here next year. You might therefore be interested in the following comments about Pasadena and Caltech. The first concerns living in Pasadena -- so far I find it a living hell -- largely though not entirely due to the smog. It is like living in a perpetual London Fog -- My eyes are continuously smarting and at times it gives me a nervous feeling. The newspapers are full of talk about the wretchness [sic] of the situation but as yet little is being done to control the oil refineries (the origin of most of the fumes). About 2-3 days out of the week, the skies clear, the nearby mountains appear and this seems like a very attractive place to dwell -- however the smog regularly happens and the region returns to its normal choking hellish flavor. Naturally the smog can be avoided by driving 150 miles into the desert but this proves impractical on most days. I thus conclude that Odile will not find Southern California as alluring as she might think.
Secondly I'll mention Caltech -- so far my contacts have only been in Biology and Chemistry. In Biology there is Max, -- otherwise fairly dull (from your viewpoint and also mine). In Chemistry obviously the great Man -- however it is unlikely that you'll eat lunch (et al.) with him and so I'd suspect you would tell him more than he would tell you. Then Cobey [?] -- he is very [?] nice and helpful but not in a theoretical way. This effectively leaves Werner Shucmaller [?] who is very good and talkative -- his interests however are not very biological and so he probably would not be intimately involved in what your doing. So far I have not come across any younger person who seems unusual in the sense of attempting intuitive work. This seems to be left to Pauling. I thus conclude that from the viewpoint of protein crystallography -- Cambridge is more attractive, obviously experimentally, but also scientifically
Perhaps I being obstruse in my opinion but I donot [sic] think you would find the equal of Max, John, Hugh, Tom Broad, etc. in Pasadena.
My own future is very much in doubt. The Army is hot on my tail and it is highly possible that I shall not be here next year. To escape the army I may join the Public Health Service and be stationed in Bethesda (near Washington). I should have to serve three years and so the immediate future seems cloudy if not just plain dismal.
Experimentally I've done almost nothing -- RNA interests me more than genetics and so my little effort have been along these lines. I (with Alex Ries) are able to repeat my Cambridge RNA ratio -- using RNA from calf hair [?] -- Hence a unique RNA structure exists!!!!!. However so far our photographs are largely powder (diffuse) and only yesterday did I obtain a picture with any orientation (only slight) (spacing very binefringent [?]) -- This pattern is strongly affected by H2O content (nothing quantitative as yet) -- whether equal to or less than 2 forms exist I'm not sure. Naturally I've tried model building and at times (including now) believe I'm learning something. By Christmas we should know more than a little.
I have just seen Maurices note in Nature. It reads very well -- I found the note on hydration by the Swede at Berkeley announcing is its present form though obviously some such scheme must exist.
Naturally my best regards to Odile -- I should like to know her reactions to Brooklyn.
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