Passport to nowhere

March 31, 2000

Just how US chemist Linus Pauling missed determining the structure of DNA was revealed by Maurice Wilkins at the opening of the building named after him and Rosalind Franklin, who obtained much of the data that led to Wilkins, James Watson and Francis Crick getting the Nobel prize.

Pauling asked for the data to be sent to him in the US, but Wilkins delayed to let the British-based team work on it for longer. Had Pauling turned up at King's College, London, says Wilkins, he would have been allowed a look. But at the height of the McCarthy era, Pauling was deprived of his passport because of his liberal sympathies.

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