TITLE: Scientists Being Scientists AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: April 14, 2013 6:25 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Watson and Crick announced their discovery of the double helix structure of DNA in Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids, a marvel of concise science writing. It has been widely extolled for how much information it packs into a single page, including the wonderfully understated line, "It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material." As I read this paper again recently, though, this passage stood out:
The previously published X-ray data on deoxyribose nucleic acid are insufficient for a rigorous test of our structure. So far as we can tell, it is roughly compatible with the experimental data, but it must be regarded as unproved until it has been checked against more exact results.
They are unpretentious sentences. They do nothing special, stating simply that more and better data are needed to test their hypothesis. This is not a time for hyperbole. It is a time to get back to the lab. Just scientists being scientists. -----