Pauling was confident that he could solve DNA. He had already started thinking about it. The only problem would be if someone
beat him to it, but he could not take the possibility very seriously. Wilkins and Franklin were at work on it - Corey, in
fact, had visited Franklin's laboratory while over for the Royal Society meeting in May and had seen her excellent DNA x-ray
photos - but there was no indication that either of them knew enough chemistry to be a serious threat.
If Bragg were involved, that would be a different matter. But the only indication that anyone at the Cavendish was looking
at DNA came from one of Pauling's Caltech colleagues, Max Delbrück, who was in correspondence with a young postdoctoral fellow of Kendrew's, twenty-two-year-old Jim Watson. Watson had written
Delbrück something about looking for a DNA model. Delbrück shared Watson's letter with Pauling.
It did not sound very serious. Although Delbrück thought Watson was promising, he had not been good enough to get admitted
to Caltech when he applied for graduate work. The gentlemen at the Cavendish had, in any case, not yet beaten Pauling in any
Click images to enlarge
Max Delbrück. 1949.
"Trips to Germany, Sweden, and Denmark, July and August 1953" July - November 1953.
"Max is rather silent, but to spend the days chewing on a problem, and writing and erasing things on the blackboard with him,
is terribly exciting. He is unusually cultured by American standards. You know, most American scientists are duds; they never
have read a sensible book."