First Edition of The Nobel Lectures in Medicine 1942-1945; Signed by Francis Crick and James D. Watson
Nobel Lectures: Physiology or Medicine 1942-1962.
Watson, James D; Francis Crick; Arthur Kornberg, Joshua Lederberg.
Item Number: 659
Amsterdam: Elsevier Publishing Company, 1964.
First edition. Thick Octavo, original yellow cloth. Signed by Nobel Laureates Francis Crick and James D. Watson at their Nobel Lecture. Fine in a near fine dust jacket with some closed tears. An exceptional piece signed by these Nobel Prize-winning scientists.
In the early 1950s, the race to discover DNA was on. At Cambridge University, graduate student Francis Crick and research fellow James Watson had become interested, impressed especially by Pauling's work. Meanwhile at King's College in London, Maurice Wilkins (b. 1916) and Rosalind Franklin were also studying DNA. The Cambridge team's approach was to make physical models to narrow down the possibilities and eventually create an accurate picture of the molecule. The King's team took an experimental approach, looking particularly at x-ray diffraction images of DNA. Watson and Crick took a crucial conceptual step, suggesting the molecule was made of two chains of nucleotides, each in a helix as Franklin had found, but one going up and the other going down. Crick had just learned of Chargaff's findings about base pairs in the summer of 1952. He added that to the model, so that matching base pairs interlocked in the middle of the double helix to keep the distance between the chains constant. Watson and Crick showed that each strand of the DNA molecule was a template for the other. During cell division the two strands separate and on each strand a new "other half" is built, just like the one before. This way DNA can reproduce itself without changing its structure -- except for occasional errors, or mutations. The structure so perfectly fit the experimental data that it was almost immediately accepted. DNA's discovery has been called the most important biological work of the last 100 years, and the field it opened may be the scientific frontier for the next 100.