Francis Crick

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Francis Crick : biography

8 June 1916 – 28 July 2004

Other honors

  • The inscription on the helices of a DNA sculpture (which was donated by James Watson) outside Clare College’s Thirkill Court, Cambridge, England reads: "The structure of DNA was discovered in 1953 by Francis Crick and James Watson while Watson lived here at Clare." and on the base: "The double helix model was supported by the work of Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins."
  • Another sculpture entitled Discovery, by artist Lucy Glendinning was installed on Tuesday, 13 December 2005 in Abington Street, Northampton. According to the late Lynn Wilson, chairman of the Wilson Foundation, "The sculpture celebrates the life of a world class scientist who must surely be considered the greatest Northamptonian of all time — by discovering DNA he unlocked the whole future of genetics and the alphabet of life."
  • Westminster City Council unveiled a green plaque to Francis Crick on the front façade of 56 St George’s Square, Pimlico, London SW1 on 20 June 2007; Crick lived in the first floor flat, together with Robert Dougall of BBC radio and later TV fame, a former Royal Navy associate.
  • In addition, Crick was a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the International Academy of Humanism, and a Fellow of CSICOP.
  • A sculpted bust of Francis Crick by John Sherrill Houser, which incorporates a single ‘Golden’ Helix, was cast in bronze in the artist’s studio in New Mexico, US. The bronze was first displayed at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference (on Consciousness) at the University of Cambridge’s Churchill College on 7 July 2012; it was bought by Mill Hill School in May 2013, and displayed at their inaugural Crick Dinner on 8 June 2013.
  • The Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences of the American Philosophical Society (2001), together with James D. Watson.

Books by Crick

  • Of Molecules and Men (Prometheus Books, 2004; original edition 1967) ISBN 1-59102-185-5
  • Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature (Simon & Schuster, 1981) ISBN 0-671-25562-2
  • What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery (Basic Books reprint edition, 1990) ISBN 0-465-09138-5
  • The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search For The Soul (Scribner reprint edition, 1995) ISBN 0-684-80158-2
  • Kreiseliana: about and around Georg Kreisel; ISBN 1-56881-061-X; 495 pages. For pages 25 – 32 "Georg Kreisel: a Few Personal Recollections" contributed by Francis Crick.

Research

Crick was interested in two fundamental unsolved problems of biology: how molecules make the transition from the non-living to the living, and how the brain makes a conscious mind.Page 17 of What Mad Pursuit by Francis Crick. He realized that his background made him more qualified for research on the first topic and the field of biophysics. It was at this time of Crick’s transition from physics to biology that he was influenced by both Linus Pauling and Erwin Schrödinger.Page 18 of What Mad Pursuit by Francis Crick. It was clear in theory that covalent bonds in biological molecules could provide the structural stability needed to hold genetic information in cells. It only remained as an exercise of experimental biology to discover exactly which molecule was the genetic molecule.Page 22 of What Mad Pursuit by Francis Crick.Page 30 of The Eighth Day of Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Biology by Horace Freeland Judson published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press (1996) ISBN 0-87969-478-5. In Crick’s view, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, Gregor Mendel’s genetics and knowledge of the molecular basis of genetics, when combined, revealed the secret of life.Page 25 of What Mad Pursuit by Francis Crick. Crick had the very optimistic view that life would very soon be created in a test tube. However, some people (such as fellow researcher and colleague Esther Lederberg) thought that Crick’s views were overly optimistic