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Francis Crick



Francis Harry Compton Crick, OM (June 8, 1916July 28, 2004) was one of the discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule. Born in Northampton, England, he studied physics at University College London, and became a B.Sc. in 1937. During World War II, he worked on magnetic and acoustic mines. He began studying biology after the war's end.

In 1951, he started working with James D. Watson at Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge in England. Building on the X-ray research of Rosalind Franklin, they together developed the proposal of the helical structure of DNA, which they published in 1953, and for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962, together with the late Maurice Wilkins of University College, London.

He also made significant contributions in laying the foundations of the now mature field of molecular biology. This includes work on the nature of the genetic code and the mechanisms of protein synthesis. He later left molecular biology for his other interest, consciousness. His autobiographical book What Mad Pursuit includes a description of why he left molecular biology and switched to neuroscience. Crick's book The Astonishing Hypothesis makes the argument that neuroscience now has the tools required to begin a scientific study of how brains produce conscious experiences. He was a well-known atheist who also advocated directed panspermia as a hypothesis for how life started on Earth. Crick was also one of the original endorsers of the Ashley Montagu Resolution to petition for an end to the genital mutilations of children.

Starting in 1976, Crick worked at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California ([1]). He was elected a fellow of CSICOP in 1983 and a Humanist Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism in the same year. Crick died of colon cancer in Thornton Hospital, San Diego. [2]


Books by Crick

  • Of Molecules and Men (Prometheus Books, 2004; original edition 1967) ISBN 1591021855
  • What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery (Basic Books reprint edition, 1990) ISBN 0465091385
  • The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search For The Soul (Scribner reprint edition, 1995) ISBN 0684801582

Books about Crick

  • James D. Watson, The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, Atheneum, 1980, ISBN 0689706022 (first published in 1968) is a very readable first hand account of the research by Crick and Watson. The book also formed the basis of the award winning television dramatisation Life Story by BBC Horizon (also broadcast as Race for the Double Helix).
  • Francis Crick and James Watson: Pioneers in DNA Research by John Bankston, Francis Crick and James D. Watson (Mitchell Lane Publishers, Inc., 2002) ISBN 1584151226

See also

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