Skip to main content

Not every Watson is a sidekick

Image result for watson and crick

Watson seems to be a good sidekick sort of name. It reminds some of us of the Dr. Watson who shared a flat with Sherlock Holmes and wrote up his adventures for the world. Also, those two syllables may call the mind Thomas Watson, the fellow who worked with Alexander Graham Bell, and was on the receiving end of the first message ever transmitted by telephone.

"Mr Watson, come here, I want to see you," is how I think it went.

Anyway, one famous Watson who was a member of a duo and who was most definitely not a sidekick was James Watson, the biochemist who in association with Francis Crick, developed the double helix model of DNA.

Watson's famous 1968 memoir of that achievement, THE DOUBLE HELIX, begins with the statement, "I have never seen Francis Crick in a modest mood." A fair reading of the book generally indicates that Watson hadn't known many modest moods himself, either.

In the above photo, Crick is standing, pointing out features of the model. Watson is seated. Both are grinning.

So ... here's a toast to him. The nobody's-sidekick Watson. Drink up.


Popular posts from this blog

Great Chain of Being

One of the points that Lovejoy makes in the book of that title I mentioned last week is the importance, in the Neo-Platonist conceptions and in the later development of the "chain of being" metaphor, of what he calls the principle of plenitude. This is the underlying notion that everything that can exist must exist, that creation would not be possible at all were it to leave gaps.

The value of this idea for a certain type of theodicy is clear enough.

This caused theological difficulties when these ideas were absorbed into Christianity.  I'll quote a bit of what Lovejoy has to say about those difficulties:

"For that conception, when taken over into Christianity, had to be accommodated to very different principles, drawn from other sources, which forbade its literal interpretation; to carry it through to what seemed to be its necessary implications was to be sure of falling into one theological pitfall or another."

The big pitfalls were: determinism on the on…

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…