Watson on Pauling

In 1931, when he was 30, Linus Pauling knew he was the world's best chemist. Ten years later his peers agreed. By then, The Nature of the Chemical Bond (1939) was already on its way to becoming the most influential chemistry book of the century. His biggest biological success came from his 1951 proposal of the alpha-helical fold for protein molecules, which everybody else thought were too large and complex to study. His findings were quickly verified, and Linus' confidence was never higher.

Then, unexpectedly, he struck out when he proposed an implausible, three-chain helix for DNA. Several months later,...

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