Linus Pauling's incorrect model of the DNA structure, James Watson
Interviewee: James Watson. James Watson describes the triple helix model proposed by Linus Pauling. (DNAi Location: Code > Finding the structure > Players > > Linus Pauling > Watson describes the 3-strand model)
It wasn't until the last day of January that Peter came in after lunch and had a manuscript and it was his father's manuscript on DNA. And of course my stomach sank and I, you know, I was scared to death, well what was going to be in it. And quickly I read it and then it was very strange, it was like our original ill-fated model of the Fall of '51, we had three chains thinking that density of, given the diameter and everything and the density, there had to be three chains in the unit cell. And Linus had, you know, also made a three-chain model, but he held them together by hydrogen bonds, treating the phosphate groups as un-ionized, as if they still had a hydrogen atom attached. And but if that was the case they wouldn't be called an acid, so we wondered what got into Linus?
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In 1952, Peter Pauling was a student at Cambridge when his father, Linus, sent him a paper proposing that DNA was a triple helix. James (Jim) Watson eagerly read the paper and realized that Pauling got it wrong.
Although the chemistry was wrong, Linus Pauling's triple-stranded DNA model was a catalyst for James Watson and Francis Crick to solve the structure of DNA.
James Watson and Francis Crick explain how they solved the structure of DNA. Erwin Chargaff explain how he measured the levels of each of the four nitrogenous bases.
James Watson talks about how he and Francis Crick felt about Pauling's helix.
James Watson talks about how he worked out the base pairing of DNA.
Linus Pauling's triple-helix model for DNA and the reaction to this incorrect model.
In 1952, Linus Pauling proposed a triple-stranded helix structure for DNA.
15492. Discovering the double helix structure of DNA, James Watson, video with 3D animation and narration
James Watson used cardboard cutouts representing the shapes of the DNA bases to figure out how bases pair.
A young James Watson holding up a model of the structure of DNA.
Explore DNA's structure.