NEW YORK – Sixty years ago scientist Francis Crick wrote a letter to his 12-year-old son saying he and a colleague had discovered something very beautiful – the structure of DNA.
Now, the note and its hand-drawn diagrams are being auctioned off in New York. Christies estimates the letter could fetch $1 million or more at the sale on April 10.
Cricks letter describes to his son how he and James Watson found the copying mechanism by which life comes from life. It includes a simple sketch of DNAs double-helix structure that Crick concedes he cant draw well.
The seven-page handwritten letter from Francis Crick in Cambridge, England, to Michael Crick at his boarding school concludes, Read this carefully so that you will understand it. When you come home we will show you the model. Lots of love, Daddy.
Michael Crick, now 72, said Saturday he immediately understood his father had made a breakthrough. Though he added, I dont think any of us at the time quite realized the full impact it would have.
The letter dated March 19, 1953, was written about a month before Watson and Cricks research was published in the journal Nature.
Francis Crick, who died in 2004 at age 88, was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1962 along with Watson and Maurice Wilkins. He spent the latter decades of his career doing brain research at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., where he became a professor in 1977.
Michael Crick, who lives in Bellevue Wash., is a pioneer designer of computer games.
Michael and his wife, Barbara, have promised to donate half the proceeds from the sale of the letter to a trust benefiting the Salk Institute.