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Seeing Rosalind Franklin’s photo of DNA


My lack of manners
James Watson Scientist
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I arrived, you know, in Cambridge with, you know, no feeling of what manners were, you know. To the extent, you know, there were rich people, and they had manners, but, you know, I just thought manners went along with vulgar rich people. And, yes, which was, you know, it, it was a decisive thing my lack of manners which let us win. Francis wouldn’t go up to London without writing a letter to Maurice Wilkins saying he was going to be in London, would Maurice be around? Then people never showed up in someone else’s office without permission. So, you know, it was a way to keep you, to avoid being embarrassed. You didn’t have to meet someone who would discover you weren’t working, or, you know, it was a way of, you know, treating everyone as equal because you didn’t see anyone. Yeah, it was a very carefully mannered society.

American molecular biologist James Dewey Watson is probably best known for discovering the structure of DNA for which he was jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins. His long career has seen him teaching at Harvard and Caltech, and taking over the directorship of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. From 1988 to 1992, James Watson was head of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health. His current research focuses on the study of cancer.

Listeners: Martin Raff Walter Gratzer

Martin Raff is a Canadian-born neurologist and research biologist who has made important contributions to immunology and cell development. He has a special interest in apoptosis, the phenomenon of cell death.



Listen to Martin Raff at Web of Stories



Walter Gratzer is Emeritus Professor of Biophysical Chemistry at King's College London, and was for most of his research career a member of the scientific staff of the Medical Research Council. He is the author of several books on popular science. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard and has known Jim Watson since that time

Duration: 1 minute, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: November 2008 and October 2009

Date story went live: 18 June 2010