Molecular Biology: Explorer of the Bloodstream

The tangled mass of tubing, disks and light bulbs unveiled before a packed meeting of the Royal Society of scientists in London looked for all the world like an outsize example of abstract sculpture. In fact, it was a precise piece of technical art. It was a model of the hemoglobin molecule, the vital constituent of blood corpuscles, and it was the result of nearly 30 years of effort by Cambridge University Molecular Biologist Max Perutz.

In those three decades, Perutz discovered much of what is now known about the hemoglobin molecule, which he rightly calls "an incredible apparatus." Scientists have...