Narrator: A young biologist who had long had an ambition to discover the nature of the gene, James Watson, was rather more sure about
James Watson: I think I thought it probably was the genetic material. I had been working in Copenhagen on the fate of the DNA during bacterial
virus reproduction, and probably even from the time of graduate school it seemed like a logical molecule to think about. The
Avery experiment said that genetic specificity could be carried by the DNA. You could interpret it in a variety of ways, but
given your choice, I think you picked on DNA.
Narrator: Although Watson had gone to Copenhagen to learn nucleic acid chemistry, the subject bored him. DNA itself didn't loom large
again until he heard a talk by Maurice Wilkins in Naples, who showed some x-ray photographs obtained from crystalline DNA.
James Watson: This was very exciting to me because when I had been in graduate school, I had read about the original 1938 work of Astbury
on x-ray photographs, and this was obviously a big step forward, so it seemed like a pretty good thing to do was to do the
x-ray work because it might actually tell you what the molecule was like. I mean, DNA was a word. It never meant anything
as a molecule to me, and I knew it was composed of nucleotides. But again, except for an exam, I never would have learned
what the formula was.