Who is Francis Crick

Francis Crick, in the background a model of the brain bequeathed to him by Jacob Bronowski

Francis Harry Compton Crick OM (born June 8, 1916 in Northampton, England, † July 28, 2004 in San Diego, USA)[1] was an English physicist and biochemist. Together with James Watson, he discovered the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

Live and act

Model of the DNA double helix

Crick had graduated from University College London in 1937 with a degree in physics. In the meantime he worked for the British Navy and worked on magnetic and acoustic sea mines.[1] From 1947 he also studied biology and devoted himself for years, but unsuccessfully, to his doctorate at the Cavendish Laboratory of the University of Cambridge. He was engaged in the X-ray crystallographic study of the hemoglobin molecule when the American biochemist James Watson joined him in 1951 and both set out to decipher the structure of DNA. On February 28, 1953, they had both managed to create a spatial model of the DNA double helix based on X-ray diffraction data from Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins. This model she in the article Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid in the magazine Nature presented on April 25, achieved world fame and is still valid today. In 1955, Crick presented his “adapter hypothesis”, which states that a hitherto unknown structure brings the amino acids to their destination and connects them correctly there (today we know that this is the tRNA as an adapter molecule). In 1958 he formulated the central dogma of molecular biology.

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

The research history of Watson, Wilkins, and Crick is now considered a negative paradigm for good scientific practice as it was published in Nature 1953 would never have come about without the unauthorized adoption of unpublished research results by other researchers, especially Rosalind Franklins. The data was illegally obtained through Wilkins, who worked with Franklin at King's College [2][3]

In the 1970s, Crick took up the panspermia hypothesis (directed panspermia).

In old age, Crick tried a great challenge at his own institute in La Jolla, California, trying to unravel the essence of the mind and explain it through a comprehensive theory. In 1990 he postulated that the time was now ripe to tackle the riddle of the human mind scientifically. The people, "their joys and sorrows, their memories, their goals, their sense of their own identity and free will - all of this is really just the behavior of a huge collection of nerve cells and associated molecules", he formulated in his 1994 published book "What the soul really is".

He died of colon cancer on July 28, 2004 at the age of 88.[1]


  • James D. Watson: The double helix, Rowohlt TB, 1997, ISBN 3-499-60255-5
  • Francis Crick: What the soul really is, Rowohlt TB, 1997, ISBN 3-499-60257-1 (English original: The astonishing hypothesis: the scientific search for the soul, Scribner 1995)
  • Francis Crick: Of Molecules and Men, Prometheus Books, 2004 (first 1967)
  • Francis Crick: What mad pursuit. A personal view of scientific discovery, Basic Books 1990
  • Francis Crick: Life itself. Its origin and its nature, Simon and Schuster 1981

Web links

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Individual evidence

  1. 1,01,11,2Nicholas Wade: Francis Crick, Co-Discoverer of DNA, Dies at 88. In: The New York Times. July 30, 2004, accessed on January 21, 2013 (english).
  2. ↑ eprint: Plagiarism and unethical authorship Gerhard Fröhlich, Linz (Austria) 2006
  3. ↑ Denis Grady: A revolution at 50; 50 Years Later, Rosalind Franklin's X-Ray Fuels Debate New York Times, February 25, 2003