EppsNet Archive: James D. Watson

“Keep it Simple,” Nobel Prize Winner Advises

I soon was taught that [Linus] Pauling’s accomplishment was a product of common sense, not the result of complicated mathematical reasoning. Equations occasionally crept into his argument, but in most cases words would have sufficed. The key to Linus’ success was his reliance on the simple laws of structural chemistry. The -helix had not been found by only staring at X-ray pictures; the essential trick, instead, was to ask which atoms like to sit next to each other. In place of pencil and paper, the main working tools were a set of molecular models superficially resembling the toys of preschool children. We could thus see no reason why we should not solve DNA in the same way. All we had to do was to construct a set of molecular models and begin to play — with luck, the structure would be a helix. Any other type of configuration would be… Read more →

How to Be Liked by a Lot of People

Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them and it will change your life. — Amy Poehler, Harvard commencement 2011 Great advice from Amy Poehler, whoever she is. (A little research turns up the fact that she’s been in TV shows and movies with Tina Fey.) Thank god my kid isn’t going to Harvard! Do you have any idea what it costs to send a kid to an Ivy League university?! After which you get as a commencement speaker, not Tina Fey — which would be merely terrible, because at least people have heard of her — but Tina Fey’s sidekick. I’m reminded of the story of the SpongeBob and James D. Watson bobbleheads. SpongeBob has almost 23 million Likes on Facebook. Amy Poehler is giving commencement speeches at Harvard. James D. Watson is alive but unknown, not invited to commencements,… Read more →

James D. Watson Bobblehead, R.I.P.

The last place I worked, I kept my James D. Watson bobblehead on a cubicle divider, next to a SpongeBob bobblehead that belonged to a colleague. Everyone who saw these two guys recognized SpongeBob, but not one person ever recognized James D. Watson. I mean, they knew it was someone named James D. Watson because his name is right there on the base, but despite the fact that he’s holding a double helix structure, nobody recognized him as James D. Watson, Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule. (Ironically, one of the main reasons I got into software development was the opportunity to work with smart, educated people.) I brought Watson with me to the place I work now, but unfortunately I accidentally knocked him off a credenza one morning and his head broke off. I tried a couple of times to glue it back on… Read more →