Questions to think about and be prepared to discuss:a) In what sense did Watson and Crick make an invention, rather than a discovery?
b) If Rosalind Franklin had gotten access to Watson and Crick's preliminary data, equivalent to Watson getting access to her diffraction images, would she have been able to "scoop" them? (i.e. as they were so afraid that Pauling would scoop them.)
c) Imagine that Prof. Bragg, or "The March of Dimes" grant funding administration, had required Watson to write a summary of his and Crick's ideas, so far? (Which is normal for granting agencies and laboratory directors to request.) Then imagine that a copy of this report had been sent to Franklin to comment on, since she was an expert in the subject (comparable to Watson using information from Rosalind Franklin's mandatory progress report, that Max Perutz showed to him).
d) If Watson and Crick had never met, who would have made the great discovery, instead of them?
* Crick, working alone?
* Rosalind Franklin?
* Linus Pauling?
* Please suggest others.
f) If Watson or Crick had been students at UNC, and taken a course about "Unsolved Problems" would that have helped them?
g) What differences in the education of Watson or Crick could have helped them make this or other discoveries?
h) Would you have expected Watson or Crick to make many more big scientific discoveries?
i) Would you have chosen either Watson or Crick as a "Major Professor (= Thesis advisor for PhD studies)? Why or why not?
j) Consider that all science journals (including Nature) decide which manuscripts to publish based on sending them to two anonymous "referees" (experts in the field), who are asked to write one or two page criticisms, asked for their opinion whether the manuscript deserves publication, and what changes should be made. It is very rare for any journal to publish a manuscript based only on support by one major scientist (Bragg, in this case). I have never gotten a paper accepted without two anonymous reviewers. Do you think Watson would have gotten his manuscript published, otherwise?
k) If Nature had sent copies of Watson & Crick's manuscript to two anonymous experts on the subject, who would you guess these two referees would have been?
l) Watson and Crick could have asked Franklin to be a co-author on their paper. Should they? (It would not have been unusual. Two people have invited me to be a coauthorin the past few years. In one case, it was because I was one of the outside referees, and had suggested adding something that had not occurred to the authors, that they used. In the other case, it was in return for showing an author some photographs, kind of like Watson being shown Franklin's data.)
m) If Rosalind Franklin had been a co-author (and also if she hadn't died so young) would she have shared the Nobel Prize?
n) In many or most major laboratories, the Director normally is made a co-author on every manuscript submitted. If Bragg had made himself a co-author, would he have shared Crick and Watson's Nobel Prize?
o) I have been an outside referee for Science, and they used to ask these two questions: (Which they now don't ask)
p) What was the most important discovery about DNA structure? (Or the most important implication? Or insight?)
* That DNA is double-stranded (rather than having one strand, or three strands, or 4, or 5, etc.)
* Base pairing, as a plausible mechanism for self-duplication of the chemical structure.
* Base sequence as a Morse-Code-like means of encoding amino-acid sequences.
2) What is now called Radar, including especially the "Cavity Magnetron"
3) "Ultra" computer-based breaking of German Enigma codes.
Incidentally, the US government created analogous institutes for at least two major scientists, whose role in atom bomb development was kept secret. The Genome Project was begun by one of these institutes, located at Los Alamos.
r) I consulted the Wikipedia article about Randall, and noticed that he won the Thomas Gray Memorial Prize. Remember? The poet who wrote that elegy about graves in the country churchyard, that High School students used to be required to memorize:
Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
Also, this article quotes Gray as writing that many in Cambridge were "mad with pride".
Please think about all these ironies. (Among others, that Bragg had been Randall's PhD advisor.)
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