Oral history of British science

Perutz, Max (Part 5 of 19). National Life Stories Collection: General

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  • Subjects

    Molecular Biology

  • Recording date

    2001-06-30, 2001-08-18, 2001-09-15, 2001-10-06, 2001-10-27, 2001-11-29, 2001-12-08

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Cambridge, UK

  • Interviewees

    Perutz, Max, 1914-2001 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Thompson, Katherine, (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 5: MP gives explanation of work done on the modules. The modules were cut in half. Around a black core there was a narrow strip of a radioactive layer. MP was happy to find an interesting problem to work on. He thought he found a half lif of a so far unknown element but on repeating experiment with Geigercounter found that half life the same as radon(?) MP's analytical chemistry knowledge helped him to analyse composition of modules and he found a 2 - 3% uranium content. Puzzle how uranium got there - possibly due to fossils of marine creatures. MP talks about his exhibit at Royal Society soiree and describes an incident at that meeting. MP wanted to continue to work with Bernal - wrote paper on his work so far and after some arithmetic corrections it was published. He also published the module paper in a German paper but it appeared only just before the war and therefore lost of importance. Re the nodules: there was not enough uranium content to make mining feasible but there is an exhibit in a Cornwall museum. The nodules are embedded in red sandstone cliffs.

  • Description

    Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist and author Max Perutz is interviewed about his life and work. Mentor to James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA, Perutz died before this interview could be completed.

  • Related links

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

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