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Meselson, Stahl, and the Replication of DNAA History of "The Most Beautiful Experiment in Biology"$
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Frederic Lawrence Holmes

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780300085402

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300085402.001.0001

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The Replication Problem

The Replication Problem

(p.11) Chapter One The Replication Problem
Meselson, Stahl, and the Replication of DNA

Frederic Lawrence Holmes

Yale University Press

This chapter begins with one of the most famous sentences in the literature of science—the statement near the end of the brief article in Nature made by Francis Crick and James Watson that goes thus: “It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.” In his popular narrative The Double Helix, Watson described a difference of opinion in a contrasting tone, “For a while Francis wanted to expand our note to write at length about the biological implications, but finally he saw the point to a short remark and composed the sentence.” Retrospective explanations by these two principals must be viewed with caution because the misunderstandings that arose between Watson and Crick subsequent to the publication of their historic paper may affect the way in which each of them describes this incident.

Keywords:   science literature, Nature, Francis Crick, James Watson, copying mechanism, genetic material, The Double Helix, biological implications, retrospective explanations

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