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?
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.