She Blinded Me With Science

I’ve got a couple cool science links this morning.

  • Darwin – The website for the exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. While you’re there, be sure to check out Voices from South of the Clouds, that photo exhibit I mentioned a couple weeks ago. Oh and if you have Tiger installed, check out the AMNH anthro widget, which displays a different item from the anthropology collection every day.
  • Linus Pauling and the Race for DNA – Writing about Darwin makes me think of evolution’s great also-ran, Alfred Wallace. Wallace also deduced the idea of evolution via natural selection, on a similar voyage of discovery through an island chain, but he made the mistake of sending his findings to Darwin, who panicked and hastily published his own long delayed treatise, On the Origin of Species, when he realized somebody else might trump his discovery. What’s this got to do with the 20th century’s greatest chemist, Linus Pauling? Well, Pauling came tantalizingly close to deducing the structure and function of DNA in 1953, losing out to Watson and Crick when he focused on nuclear proteins instead of nucleic acids. He came so close, and might have made the connection if he had seen Rosalind Franklin’s x-ray crystallography of DNA at a conference in England in 1952. However the US State Department, caught up in the red scare of McCarthyism, withheld his passport because of his leftist politics and he could not attend.