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Charles Darwin's career path


Explanation of species change before natural selection
Francis Crick Scientist
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There was a very strong… I’m not the right person to ask this because it’s really a matter for history of science, but… it… there was a very strong prejudice that species were fixed, you see. You had to get the idea that species could change, and that was the… well, so, until you’d taken that step, it wasn’t at all obvious what the… what you were looking for. And then… so it was only the people who were thinking about how species could change, which must have been very few people, who were in the position to ask why… what would be the mechanism. Because otherwise, you thought that creatures… species were created and that as ones died out, new ones were created, or whatever it may be, you see. And… but again, you should really ask somebody in the… history of science that sort of question because you have to go back and see what everybody was saying at the time, and usually what we… what we know about is a bit garbled.

The late Francis Crick, one of Britain's most famous scientists, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. He is best known for his discovery, jointly with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, of the double helix structure of DNA, though he also made important contributions in understanding the genetic code and was exploring the basis of consciousness in the years leading up to his death in 2004.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: science, history of science, species

Duration: 49 seconds

Date story recorded: 1993

Date story went live: 08 January 2010