Scientists had identified two types of acids, RNA (ribonucleic acid) in the cytoplasm of the cell and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) in the chromosomes. They appreciated that these acids held the key to the functioning of life.
Two British laboratories of crystallography worked collaboratively. Francis Crick, assisted by the young US doctor James D. Watson, was at Cambridge. In London, Maurice Wilkins was assisted by Rosalind Franklin who perfected the techniques of observation and realized the radiograms. The untimely cancer of Rosalind Franklin is probably due to an excess of radiation dose.
The single helix of RNA structure and the two strands of DNA were among the first discoveries. In 1953, Watson understood that the shapes of the elements of the two DNA strands were identical although these elements were different. Crick and Watson immediately developed the model of the double helix, which was the biggest breakthrough of all time in the field of life sciences.
The letter written by Crick to his young son showed that he was aware of the importance of the discovery. It was sold for $ 6,05M including premium by Christie's on April 10, 2013.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Crick, Watson and Wilkins in 1962. Crick's Nobel medal and diploma were sold as a single lot for $ 2,27M including premium by Heritage on April 11, 2013.
Watson, now 86 years old, entrusted Christie's to sell his Nobel memories, offered in three lots on December 4 in New York. The Nobel medal with its case is estimated $ 2.5M, lot 1. His handwritten notes for the acceptance speech are estimated $ 300K, lot 2.
The manuscript of his Nobel lecture on the role of RNA in protein synthesis is estimated $ 200K, lot 3. Less than ten years after the discovery of the double helix, this theme highlighted the fact that the physicochemical mechanisms of life were already fully explained.
A portion of the proceeds from the sales will be donated by Dr. Watson to the benefit of scientific research and charities.
Results before fees :
speech : $ 300K
lecture : $ 200K