Double Helix: The Anticlimax

  • Rudolf Hausmann


Unravelling the structure of DNA ought to be considered the most important discovery in biology — so it can be argued. What was unfathomable before, namely, a plausible mechanism for the material basis of heredity, emerged now spontaneously, displaying itself to anyone caring to look at it. The double helix, as a self-revealing molecule, made understandable, even to a child, how the genetic information was dealt with: it was kept as an encoded text represented by the sequence of its 4 bases, and it was perpetuated throughout the generations by the pulling apart of the two strands and subsequent synthesis of complementary ones. Watson & Crick guaranteed for themselves the priority for the enlightening discovery of “the secret of life”, without actually formulating it: their extensively commented upon sentence “It has not escaped our notice... ” did the trick. This sentence, scolded by some as snobbish, seen by others as too coy, was actually an all-saying — nothing-saying compromise between the coauthors: Crick supposedly did not wish to make an open declaration in the first paper (Fig. 6.1), while Watson feared that the obvious could be usurped by someone else, so scooping the fruits of their efforts.


Double Helix Cesium Chloride Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid Nobel Prize Laureate Ribose Sugar 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rudolf Hausmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Biologie IIIUniversity of FreiburgGermany

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