Francis Crick

Francis Harry Compton Crick OM ( born June 8, 1916 in Northampton, England; † 28 July 2004 in San Diego, USA ) was a British physicist and biochemist. He discovered along with James Watson, the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA ).

Life and work

Crick in 1937 at University College in London completed a physics degree. He was temporarily working for the British Navy and worked on magnetic and acoustic mines. From 1947 he also studied biology and devoted himself to for years, but without success in the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University his doctorate. He dealt with the X-ray crystallographic study of the hemoglobin molecule, as in 1951 the American biochemist James Watson joined him and both set out to decipher the structure of DNA. On February 28, 1953, both had managed to create a spatial model of the DNA double helix, which was based on X-ray diffraction data of Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins. This model, described in the article Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid in the journal Nature presented on April 25, gained worldwide fame and is still valid today. In 1955, Crick before his "adapter hypothesis", which states that a previously unknown structure brings the amino acids to their destination and there attached correctly (now we know, this is the tRNA as an adapter molecule). In 1958 he formulated the central dogma of molecular biology.

Crick was in 1949 at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology ( MRC first unit). 1960/61, he was a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. In 1962 he became head of the Department of Molecular Genetics at the MRC Laboratory and was with Sydney Brenner in 1963, Co-Director. At the same time, he was from 1962 Non Resident Fellow of the Salk Institute in La Jolla in 1975, and moved there. He was there from 1977 to 2004 JW Kieckhefer Distinguished Professor and 1994/95 President. He was also a professor of biology, chemistry and psychology at the University of California, San Diego. He died of colon cancer.

In 1962, Crick, Wilkins and Watson for their spatial model of DNA Nobel Prize for Medicine. 1960 Crick received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, the 1961 Prix Charles -Léopold Mayer, 1962 Gairdner Foundation International Award and a 1972, the Royal Medal of the Royal Society. In 1969 he was elected a member of the Leopoldina.

Crick was known for unconventional ideas in various fields. In the 1970s, Crick attacked the panspermia hypothesis on ( directed panspermia ). Later he turned to neuroscience and the theory of consciousness.

In old age itself Crick tried at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California to a big challenge, trying to unravel the nature of the mind and can be explained by a comprehensive theory. So he postulated in 1990 that now the time was right to take the mystery of the human mind scientifically in attack. The people that " their joys and sorrows, their memories, their goals, their sense of their own identity and free will - in all this is in reality only to the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and associated molecules," he put it in his 1994 published book " What the soul really is ."

Watson, Wilkins and Crick were later criticized by some for violation of the rules of good scientific practice, since the publication in Nature from 1953 on until then unpublished research results of Rosalind Franklin at King's College was based, the X-ray crystallographic shooting her colleague Maurice Wilkins, Watson and Crick made available without their knowledge. Watson and Crick, however, would like to thank the support conclusions of the Nature Publishing summarily for the contributions of Franklin and Wilkins, without going into more detail on it.

Crick was the eugenics positive attitude towards, expressed his views on this, especially in personal communication. He was of the view in the long term, the company would be forced to think about a ( genetic) improvement of future generations. However, in the present, he saw little chance for it due to widespread religious reservations.