Thursday, 28 February 2013

The $2 million letter from father to son

“Dear Michael, Jim Watson and I have probably made a most important discovery.” 

So begins a 1953 letter from Francis Crick to his 12-year-old son. It's to be auctioned in April with an estimated price of $1-2 million. It contains the first written description of DNA as a code and of the mechanism of DNA replication – preceding the pivotal scientific articles about DNA’s structure and its genetic implications by more than a month.

The full transcript of the letter is pretty detailed… I can only assume that Nick Jnr didn't exist in those days, so Crick wasn't competing with a repeat of Pokemon or Phineas and Ferb. 

I like 'Read this carefully so you can understand it. When we come home we will show you the model'. I wish I did the kind of job where I could write a letter like that to my boys, rather than 'Today I shifted some apostrophes around. When I come home I would like to talk about something else.'

I would be interested to hear from other Dads how much interest their children show in their work, and whether they even know what it is they do. Just yesterday my eldest informed me that there was a rumour at school that I am a Doctor, but that he had told everyone that I'm not a useful one.

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