Co-Discoverer of the structure of DNA
Military service: British Navy (Admiralty Research
Francis Crick's grandfather was a shoemaker and amateur scientist.
His Uncle Walter also had a fascination with science, and young
Francis conducted some chemical experiments with him (and without
him). As a young man, Crick studied physics at University College in
London, but was interrupted by service in World War II. Afterward, he
resumed his studies at Caius College in Cambridge.
At Cambridge, he met an American named James
Watson, and together with their colleague Maurice
Wilkins, they tried to elucidate the structure of
deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). They felt Linus
Pauling, then the world's most famous chemist, was breathing down
their necks, and they desperately wanted to solve the DNA riddle
before he did. Pauling had already come close, but it was Crick,
Watson, and Wilkins who first showed that the collected clues only
made sense if DNA were structured like two twisting, spiral ladders
-- the double helix.
Some have suggested that Rosalind
Franklin, who worked with Crick, Watson, and Wilkins, may deserve
much more credit than she's been given. The evidence clearly shows
she was intimately involved in the research of DNA's structure; that
she pointed out the flaws in an early Crick-Watson theory that
suggested three, not two, DNA chains; and that Crick and Watson used
Franklin's x-ray DNA photographs before obtaining her permission.
Franklin, however, died in 1958, four years before Crick, Watson, and
Wilkins got their Nobel Prizes.
Crick and Watson also theorized on the structure of viruses.
Without Watson, Crick has worked on the structures of polyglycine II
and collagen, and researched protein synthesis, the genetic code, and
acridine-type mutants. After receiving the Nobel Prize Crick
refocused his studies on finding neural correlate of consciousness.
He worked at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California.
Father: Harry Crick Mother:
Annie Elizabeth Wilkins Crick