Althoug Yareah magazine focuses on Literature and Art, some discoveries and their discoverers are Art and Artist. This is the case: Genetic Code and F. Crick deserve to be in a magazine of arts.
F. Crick, discoverer of the genetic code.
When Mario Bunge came to Lima in 1999, he said that the article Deoxypentose Molecular structure of of deoxypentose nucleic acids, written by the biologist James Watson and the physicist Francis Crick (Nature. 1953. Vol 171:737-8), in just 2 pages showing for the first time the helical structure of DNA, was like putting a giant bird’s egg in a right nest (Validity of Philosophy, 1999, pp: 138. Universidad Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Lima). He was referring to the intellectual adventure of infer, guess, deduce, refuse, test and refine ideas to finally discover the double helix structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), using indirect methods (patterns of X-ray diffraction), subject to interpretation of molecular crystallized nuclear structures of the bacteria (B. coli).
Matt Ridley, one of the few journalists who talked with Crick (died in 2004 at age 88), is author of a celebrated personnel portrait : Francis Crick, Discoverer of the Genetic Code (Harper and Collins. 2006), where besides recreating stories and aspects of the Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine, 1962 (flirtatious, talkative, sharp laugh, bohemian, ebullient, careful of his private life, anti-religious, atheist, skeptic, anti-monarchist), describes his particular creative scientific methodology, arising from intense conversations with the mathematician G. Kreysel, the physicist M. Wilkins, J Watson, the biologist S Brenner, the neuroscientist C. Koch, its powerful visual imagery and his strong logical thinking, gifts that allowed him to see before others (read his lecture upon receiving the Nobel Prize, full of assumptions and questions). To understand his skepticism it would be of value to remember that being ex-server of the british military intelligence, Crick did not like reading newspapers because he knew that only is published what matters to certain groups in power. The creative work of Crick, according to Ridley had 3 summits: a) Watson discovery of the structure of DNA b) Discovery of the genetic code with other researchers and c) his theoretical speculations about the functioning of human consciousness explained according to him in terms of brain activity. Skeptical by race and alive by nature, Crick attempted to answer at 60 years old: Why become conscious conscious creatures?
In the 3 previous instances Crick deployed 2 features of his mind: 1) being dialectical per se, as his best ideas emerged from ongoing discussions with colleagues opposed to his ideas, methodology close to that chosen by Karl Popper and John C. Eccles, when they co-wrote The Self and Its Brain. Amazon, 1977) and Aristotle (Eudemus or the soul. Jonathan Barnes: The Complete Works of Aristotle,1984), who asserted that the best teaching is between two: a teacher willing to teach and a student eager to learn and willing to question the learned lessons. Always skeptical of alleged good and appropriate responses, Crick was always above to discover the essential in any scientific problem. 2) have developed a holistic approach able to identify the main problem of any difficulty by intuition, theory and empiricism, finding always the most appropriate intracellular physical-spatial relationships. So he differentiated 20 out of hundreds of amino-acids conforming any type of protein. So, having pictures of X-ray diffraction, he instantly discriminate opposite directions of double helix of DNA. To demonstrate theoretical aspects he needed no mathematical equations. It was enough for him to integrate visually in his brain the disconnected parts (the same method of Einstein).
Written by Victor Mechan