Cambridge is synonymous with a plethora of high achieving alumni. Two of those are Francis Crick and James Watson, they are most famous for their discovery of the structure of DNA’s Double Helix in 1953.
The story goes: on the 28th of February 1953, at The Eagle Pub on Bene’t Street, Francis Crick interrupted a patrons lunch there to announce that he and James Watson has ‘discovered the secret of life’. The Eagle Pub is situated next to the old site of Cavendish Labatory and the two scientists were frequent patrons of the pub. Allegedly the duo also worked over lunch in the pub to draw up a list of the canonical amino acids. The Eagle Pub has a commemorative ale called ‘Eagles DNA’.
It is important to note that DNA was first identified in the 1860’s by Johann Friedrich Miescher, a Swiss Chemist. Subsequently, without the work of other notable scientists including Albrecht Kossel, Phoebus Levene, Erwin Chargaff, Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, Crick and Watson would not have been able to make the discovery of the Double Helix.
DNA is essential in our understanding of life, especially in inheritance. DNA contains the biological instructions that make each species unique, ‘DNA dictates how a human or animal develops, reproduces, and eventually dies.’
Since the completion of the discovery of DNA we have been to understand genetics in greater detail providing a gateway to understanding and subsequently curing inherited diseases. DNA is also imperative at linking an unknown person to a crime; in 1988 the first person to have their DNA match samples found at the scene of a crime was sentanced for life for murder. To commemorate 50 years since Crick and Watson discovered the Double Helix, The Independant wrote an article on the 23 ways that DNA had changed the world.
During our Cambridge Walking Tour, you will be able to see the colleges that some of the world’s brainest people have listed as their alma mater. You can learn about Gonville and Cauis, the college in which Stephen Hawking completed his research fellowship. Trinity College, where Isaac Newton studied. And, Kings College, where Alan Turing studied.