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My values


Feelings about death
James Watson Scientist
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My death doesn't bother me. The death of the earth has a stronger emotional... because then no one would read my book, The Double Helix. I mean, everything would just vanish, and you know, if the sun cools down, and then suddenly there's nothing, and...

[Q] It will.

And that, I, I know, and that, if I think about it, could make me gloomy. Individual death, not so, but, it's just because you can really consider the extraordinary, how extraordinary human beings are, and what we've done with civilization, and our difference from trained chimps. And, I mean, it's unbelievable. And, all this would vanish. So, that source of, you know, it's not the end of the disappearance not the end of civilization, it's the disappearance. So, we somehow have to conquer going to other planets.

[Q] Right. So, that's an obvious implication. And, and, do you think we should invest in doing that?

Yes. Eventually, yes. If, you know, this global warming, I refuse to get excited about, but the cooling down of the sun, I would get excited by.

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: Walter Gratzer Martin Raff

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

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



Duration: 1 minute, 16 seconds

Date story recorded: November 2008 and October 2009

Date story went live: 18 June 2010