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"Collagen". In copyright. Source: Wellcome Collection.

About this work


Typescript with the title "Collagen", including Table and two drawn Figures. Drafted whilst Crick was at Brooklyn Polytechnic.

The file includes a letter (17 June, 1954) from John Randall, discussing the "elusive" structure of collagen and summarising "a few points from our conclusions about your model". Enclosed with Randall's letter are "two enlargements of optical diffraction patterns: (1) contains all main-chain atoms, but no side chains, while (2) has main-chain atoms and alternate residues proline."

In What Mad Pursuit (1988), Crick notes: "That winter (1953-54), while I was working at the Brooklyn Polytechnic ... I managed to disprove all possible versions of Gamow's code, by using the small amount of sequence data then available and by assuming (a quite unsupported assumption) that the code was 'universal' - that is, was the same in all living organisms" (p. 94).

Amongst the few sheets of fragmentary notes that are also in this file is a sheet (identified as page 3 and probably a speaking note fragment) which refers to protein synthesis and notes "Gamow's scheme: almost certainly wrong". The note continues by defining the "'ultimate' aim: to make DNA replication happen in the test-tube / i.e. take system apart, purify it, and then put it together again. Models suggest ideas how to do this. But the man who gets the $64,000 is the one who does it."



Physical description

1 file Two photographs (b/w, 6" x 41/2") showing collagen optical diffraction patterns.

Location of duplicates

A digitised copy is held by Wellcome Collection as part of Codebreakers: Makers of Modern Genetics.

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