Francis Crick (1916 - 2004)

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Reuters via CNN is reporting the death of Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. After the double-helix discovery and subsequent Nobel Prize, Crick continued his research at Cambridge University’s Medical Research Council, focusing on the genetics of viruses, protein synthesis and embryology. Subsequently, he moved to La Jolla, where he served as president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. There, he turned his attention to the study of the brain and the nature of consciousness.

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Back from Preposterous Universe on July 30, 2004 12:36 PM

I am back from the wilds of Wyoming, having happily scampered through the Jurassic for a few days. A full report will be forthcoming. Read More

At least our friends at The Panda's Thumb, who show so much disdain for intelligent design theorists, would provide a tough critique of Crick's intelligent design theory. Remember that science is supposedly about evaluating the data, not making ad ho... Read More

At least our friends at The Panda's Thumb, who show so much disdain for intelligent design theorists, would provide a tough critique of Crick's intelligent design theory. Remember that science is supposedly about evaluating the data, not making ad ho... Read More

5 Comments

I was just coming over here to post this very sad news. Excellent story at NYT:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/29/s[…]RICK.html?hp

Crick was a physicist who solved many important problems in molecular biology, so I have a particular fondness for him.

How very sad. I was privileged to have lunch with Dr. Crick some years ago, while I interviewed him for a (still very unfinished) book. He was extremely nice, on top of being a true genius.

I’ve been meaning to follow up on Crick’s (in)famous “panspermia” speculations from thirty years ago.

Creationists, of course, have had a field day with that, and I’d be curious to know what he had to say subsequently about this. Anyone know?

Another diversion that Dr. Crick allowed himself was a bold speculation about the origin of life. Only the most eminent and secure of scientists would dare flirt with the idea that Earth may have been seeded with life by a rocketship from another planet. But that possibility, a thesis Dr. Crick termed “Directed Panspermia,” was aired in an article he published in Icarus (1973) with his Salk Institute colleague Leslie E. Orgel and in a popular book by Dr. Crick alone, “Life Itself” (1981).

Dr. Crick in no way rejected the orthodox scientific thesis that life evolved in some yet to be specified way from the chemicals present on the early Earth. But he was impressed by the unexplained universality of the genetic code, and uncomfortable with the narrow window of time between the date the Earth cooled enough to be habitable and the first appearance of life in the fossil record.

With “Directed Panspermia,” he prepared, in effect, an intellectual escape hatch, an alternative explanation for life should scientists in fact find it too hard to account plausibly for the remarkably rapid emergence of Earth’s first life forms. New York Times July 29 2004

No. But here’s a good quote about creationists in general:

“The age of the earth is now established beyond any reasonable doubt as very great, yet in the United States millions of Fundamentalists still stoutly defend the naive view that it is relatively short, an opinion deduced from reading the Christian Bible too literally. They also usually deny that animals and plants have evolved and changed radically over such long periods, although this is equally well established. This gives one little confidence that what they have to say about the process of natural selection is likely to be unbiased, since their views are predetermined by a slavish adherence to religious dogmas.” — Francis Crick (The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994), p. 261-2)

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This page contains a single entry by John M. Lynch published on July 29, 2004 12:17 PM.

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