Today the secret of life was discovered. Naturally, embracing failure played a big role.

In the race to find the secret of life, the biggest failures triumphed while both the bookies’ favourite and the furthest ahead faltered primarily due to the lack of embracing failure. Channel 4 show “DNA: The Story of Life” chronicles the historic race between the following in order of perceived strength…

  1. Linus Pauling, Cal Tech – focus on model making.
  2. Watson and Crick, Cambridge University – focus on model making.
  3. Morris Wilkins and Rosalyn Franklin, Kings College – focus on Xray Crystalography. as colleague Raymond Gosling describes, her approach was on “proving” the “right answer” rather than get “an answer”… “Model building was in the air. But her view was you could build models all day but how did you prove which one was right?”

Raymond Gosling described Watson and Crick as “childish” in their approach spending as much time in the pub thinking and talking about it. Watson and Crick invited the King’s team to see their first model effort “Rosalyn Crick took one look at their model and she laughed at them. Oh look, you’ve got it inside out.” The embarrassment led to Cambridge shutting down Watson and Crick, but it was a eureka turning point in their cracking of the problem. Irwin Shagaf (an expert in the chemistry of DNA)…

  • “[Watson and Crick] were fishing really. That is what they did all the time…They were more like children in their behavior….Linus was wrong. So we were both a pleased and a bit scared because maybe someone at Cal Tech would tell Linus this is chemical nonsense. Little did we know that no one at Cal Tech really had the courage to tell Linus he was wrong. Linus was like the pope. Linus wasn’t used to people saying he was wrong.”

In the end, the titan of biochemisty faltered because no one would present him with failure, and the team of Watson and Crick who failed the most prevailed in the end.

Advertisements