The Gossip Test & Francis Crick

Francis Crick in his office. Behind him is a m...
             Francis Crick in his office. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know?

Francis Crick joined James Watson, Rosalind Franklin,  New Zealand-born physicist Maurice Wilkins, and others to discover the structure of DNA. But did you know that after earning a degree in physics from University College in London, Crick had his pathway remarkably altered by the breakout of World War II. Instead of proceeding to a graduate degree in physics, he took a civilian job at the British Admiralty Research Laboratory. There he helped develop radar and magnetic mines. One of these mine designs was effective against German minesweepers. After the war, he was intellectually restless and decided to change careers. Here’s what he said about how he chose the next chapter of his life:

“I had discovered the gossip test – what you are really interested in is what you gossip about. Without hesitation, I applied it to my recent conversations. Quickly I narrowed down my interests to two main areas: the borderline between the living and the nonliving, and the workings of the brain.” (Francis Crick, in his book What Mad Pursuit)

In 1953, he and Watson published their findings on the double-helix structure for DNA in the British scientific weekly Nature. And the rest is history. And now you know.

I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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