Oral history of British science

Wilkins, Maurice (4 of 12). National Life Stories: Leaders of National Life

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  • Subjects

    Biophysics; Molecular Biology

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  • Interviewees

    Wilkins, Maurice, 1916-2004 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Rose, Steven (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 4: Maurice Wilkins [MW] talks about his interest in fighter planes and the excitement MW experienced and the lack of connecting it to death and war. MW mentions a story he wrote in school about "goodies" and "baddies" and a radium island - and his thoughts then connecting it to H-bomb tests. MW then went to a good school - King Edwards - in the centre of Birmingham. Had to go by steam train and describes the pranks they got up to in the train. MW also designed various tricks which were then executed by his friend. Describes how he dealt with the bully in school. More description of school life and discussions with some teachers. MW describes his pleasure of getting into the science 6th form and his main interest in physics and astronomy, and building a telescope. Again influence of H.G. Wells and his scientific philosophy on life. MW overheard a conversation between father and a friend, suggesting that MW might go to Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge - which appealed straight away. His sister went to Oxford doing German - was a drain on their finances. MW missed scholarship first time - had another year at school - developed interests in politics, architecture and philosophy.

  • Description

    Joint Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 with Francis Harry Compton Crick and James Dewey Watson for their work and discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material; DNA structure, described as double helix.

  • Related transcripts

    Professor Maurice Wilkins interviewed by Steven Rose: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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