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Spare a thought for the many scientists who could have claimed the DNA double helix discovery but didn't

By Matt Ridley   May 2003

How extremely stupid not to have thought of it!” Thomas Huxley’s purported reaction on first hearing of Darwin’s idea of natural selection can be repeated in spades for the event whose 50th anniversary is being celebrated this April: the double helix of DNA, surely the greatest biological prize of the 20th century, as natural selection was of the 19th.

James Watson and Francis Crick got the credit, the Nobel Prize and a place in the scientific pantheon. But their success generated-and still generates-occasional resentment, not least because of Watson’s brutally honest recounting, in The Double Helix, of how they stumbled…

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