Courtesy of the James D. Watson Collection
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives

Getty Images

"An unknown Elvis Presley is preparing to graduate from Humes High School in Memphis, Tenn. Princess Elizabeth is preparing for her June 8 coronation. And at the Cavendish Laboratory at University of Cambridge, England, Jim Dewey Watson, 24, and Francis Compton Crick, 36, are trying to persuade Watson's younger sister, Elizabeth, to give up her Saturday afternoon to type a 900-word article that begins this way: 'We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest.'

Elizabeth Watson agrees after the two men convince her that she is participating in perhaps the most famous event in biol-ogy since Darwin published his theory of evolution in 1859. As she types the handwritten scribbles into legibility, the era of molecular biology is born....

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!