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civil ser vice in mid-1946, Francis soon lost interest in
military intelligence and wanted a bigger challenge.
He saw in biology the greatest range of potential prob-
lems to engage his inquisitive mind.
Apprised of Francis's desire for a radical change
of course, Harrie Massey sent him along to see the
physicist Maurice Wilkins at King's College London's
new Biophysics Laboratory. After the war, while still
in Berkeley, Massey had changed Wilkins's life by
giving him a copy of Er win Schrödinger's What Is
Life? Its message that the secret of life lay in the gene
was as compelling to Maurice as it had been to me,
and he soon began to make his move into biophysics.
He would join J. T. Randall at St. Andrews and then
move with him to London. Immediately he and Fran-
cis became friends, with Maurice soon asking Randall
to o er a job to Francis. Randall thought better of it,
though, correctly seeing Francis as a mind he could
not control. The Medical Research Council, mindful of
Francis's high wartime repute, came to his rescue and
funded his learning to work with cells at the Strange-
ways Laboratory on the outskirts of Cambridge.
His task during the next two years at the Strange-
ways---obser ving how tiny magnets moved through
the cytoplasm of cells---did not win Francis any kudos.
At best it was busywork that gave him time to seek
out more appropriate challenges. These at last came
when he moved his MRC scholarship across Cam-
bridge to Max Per utz's protein-crystallographic unit.
Though his new job was no better paid, it would let
him work toward the PhD, by then a prerequisite for
meaningful academic positions.
By the time I came to Cambridge, Francis's forte
was increasingly seen to be crystallographic theory,
though his early forays in the eld had not been uni-
versally appreciated. At his rst group seminar in
July 1950, entitled "The Theory of Protein Crystal-
lography," he came to the conclusion that the meth-
odologies currently used by Per utz and Kendrew
could never establish the three-dimensional str uc-
ture of proteins---an admittedly impolitic assertion
that caused Sir Lawrence Bragg to brand Crick a boat
rocker. Much more harm came a year later when
Bragg presented his newest brainchild and Francis
told him how similar it was to one he himself had
presented at a meeting six months earlier. After the
infuriating implication of his being an idea snatcher,
Sir Lawrence called Francis into his o ce to tell him
that once his thesis was completed he would have no
future at the Cavendish. Fortunately for me, and even
more so for Francis, Cambridge was unlikely to grant
him the degree for another 18 to 24 months.
I was by then having lunch with Francis almost
daily at the nearby pub, the Eagle, which during the
war was favored by American airmen ying out of
nearby air elds. Soon we would be upgraded from
desks beside our lab benches to a largish o ce of our
own next to the connected pair of smaller rooms used
by Max and John. There, Francis's ever irrepressible
laughter would less disturb the work habits of other
unit members. At our rst meeting, Francis had spoken
of his much valued friend Maurice Wilkins, who, like
him, had made a wartime marriage that soon disin-
tegrated with peace. Because he was curious to know
whether Maurice's crystallography had generated any
new, perhaps sharper x-ray photos from DNA, Francis
invited him for a Sunday dinner at the Green Door,
the tiny apartment on top of a tobacconist shop on
Thompson Lane, across from St. John's College. Ear-
lier occupied by Max Perutz and his wife Gisela, it had
been home to Francis and his second wife Odile since
their marriage two years before in August 1949.
At that meal, we learned of an unexpected compli-
cation to Maurice's pursuit of DNA. While he was on
an extended winter visit to the United States, his boss,
Professor J. T. Randall, had recr uited to the King's
DNA e ort the Cambridge-trained physical chemist
Rosalind Franklin. For the past four years she had been
THE PARTNER Trained as a physicist, Francis Crick worked
closely with James Watson to discover the structure of DNA.
A. BARRINGTON BROWN/PHOTO RESEARCHERS, INC.
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