Skip to content

1953 – A Real ‘Annus Mirabilis’

April 25, 2013

This post is an unusual one by the standards of biopolyverse. The molecular and cellular science herein is mainly featured from a historical point of view, and other scientific achievements in much broader contexts are noted as well. A motivation for this stems from the significance of 2013 as the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick, as published in Nature in 1953. There already has been publicity regarding this, and much more will ensue before this year’s end. So it is not my main purpose to simply jump on this bandwagon, although it is certainly an occasion worth highlighting as much as possible. Rather, it is to make note of how 1953 seems to tower above almost all other years as an epic time for scientific endeavor across many disciplines, not least of which are included the biomedical sciences.

Years of Wonder or Miracles

Years that ‘stand out’ are often nominated as opinionated interpretations of history, or for purely personal reasons. The 17th century poet John Dryden wrote the poem Annus Mirabilis in reference to the year 1666, in which the Great Fire of London occurred, following closely on a terrible epidemic of bubonic plague in 1665.  The ‘wonder-ful’ (mirabilis) aspect of 1666 may have been either an ironic construct or a portent for a better future, but in any dispassionate view, 1666 was not a particularly auspicious year. This is especially so if one takes a more global stance than would normally be assumed for an Englishman of that era, long before rapid communication technologies. Although over the course of any one year, a blend of varied high and low personal events may result in neutrality, many people (at least those of middle-age or later) could nominate one particular year of their lives as their favorite. This individual perspective would seem to be enshrined within another poem entitled Annus Mirabilis, specifically lauding 1963 for rather personal reasons of the author, Philip Larkin.

But here I contend that a truly wondrous year should be recognizable objectively, and not have to be sifted through the vagaries of fractious historical debate, let alone merely personal factors. Here the deciding factor is long-term influence, and scientific and technological advance is among the most influential molders of human civilizations. It is important to note that true long-term and concrete influence on societies is quite distinct from individual fame, whether transient or long-term. Only a small minority of randomly-chosen people could answer questions like “Who first discovered the structure of DNA?”; “Who first formulated the principles of information theory?” or “Who won a Nobel Prize for the discovery of X-rays?”. Yet the influence of these discoveries and their technological off-shoots has been profound, with global impact reaching indefinitely into the future. Obviously, a very large number of alternatives could have been substituted for the above questions, but in each case, the scientific or technological advances are far more meaningful and long-term than the vast majority of short-lived political developments. Of course, this is not to say that non-scientific aspects of history are insignificant, but typical dissections of the course of history often pay little notice to the relative importance of scientific progress.  This has been a pattern even among learned historians, let alone among popular perceptions. From these observations, one can conclude that an ‘Annus mirabilis’ for scientific discovery could easily ‘fly under the radar’ from gaining widespread recognition, and the year 1953 AD is a strong contender in this regard.

Pin-pointing discoveries

Before we can start picking out years of scientific discovery, it is necessary to think a little about what a ‘discovery’ process means, or when to specifically locate a scientific advance in time. It is often not as simple as a straightforward historical event. For example, in 2013 one can say, ‘President Kennedy was assassinated fifty years ago in 1963’, or ‘the structure of DNA was discovered sixty years ago in 1953’. The first of these is an unassailable historical fact – that’s when that specific event happened. But the scientific history of DNA is not quite so precise, if one wants to account for the timelines for the structural discovery itself. Most scientific achievements are based on background work which may have taken many years, and ‘breakthroughs’ may be more a series of incremental steps than a sudden revelation. As a result of this, attempts to dovetail certain major scientific advances into a single year may appear contrived.

A simple defining point is a publication date, where a description of at least the essence of the discovery is first presented in scientific literature. Thus, much of Watson and Crick’s work leading to the DNA double-helical structure was done in 1952, but the crucial publication emerged in Nature in 1953.  Likewise, Salk’s work towards a polio vaccine comprised of inactivated viruses was achieved in 1952, but the first preliminary results with a small sample of people was published in 1953 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (Extensive trials followed in 1954, leading to the public release of the vaccine in 1955).

What happened in 1953?

With this guideline in mind, then we can examine scientific events associated with 1953, and those that stand out are listed in Table 1 below.

Table1-1953SciAdvTable 1. The record of 1953 for major scientific accomplishments. All of the above were first published in 1953 except for the bottom-most entry (orange highlight). The latter corresponds to the starting point of long-standing biomedical investigation into the patient ‘HM” (identified as Henry Molaison after this death), who underwent an operation in 1953 aimed at reducing his intractable epileptic fits, which removed part of the brain region known as the hippocampus. While the anti-epileptic goal was largely successful, the patient suffered severe short-term memory deficits from that point on for the rest of his life. HM cooperated with many studies which showed the critical importance of the hippocampus for short-term memory formation, and other important aspects of memory. Such studies, however, were not published until several years after the initial operation.


Of course, the determination of the double-helical structure of DNA, and the immediate insight it afforded into the mechanisms of DNA replication and genetic encoding, stand out by a wide margin. But the additional discoveries noted above also shine strongly. For example, another very famous experiment was published in 1953, and that is second in the above Table’s list. This work of Stanley Miller (and Harold Urey) in the generation of simple biological building blocks under ‘early earth’ conditions struck a chord at the time, and has been a scientific landmark ever since. Less famous, but also very significant, is the first successful freezing of sperm, a milestone for reproductive biology. And the rationale for classifying the first successful polio vaccine by publication date was outlined above.

In the general field of evolutionary biology, 1953 was very significant as the time-point when a major adjustment to the study of human evolution was made. The prior ‘discovery’ of the Piltdown man ‘missing link’ in 1912 was proven to be a hoax, thus removing a major impediment to the proper understanding of human origins. Although this may seem only the demolition of an artificial barrier rather than a real advance in knowledge, it demonstrated the efficacy of the scientific method in eventually pinning down the truth and allowed other loose ends in the field to be tied together. Moving from human biological evolution to the ‘evolution’ of human cultures, 1953 also saw a major advance in the decipherment of the hitherto uninterpretable script Linear B, samples of which were discovered previously in archaeological sites investigating Mycenaean Crete (~1600 – 1100 BCE).  The revolutionary decipherment was accomplished by Michael Ventris, also in collaboration with John Chadwick.

Outside of science with any direct biological connections, 1953 saw a major advance with the first physical detection of neutrinos (as opposed to their previous theoretical prediction). Also, in the same year, the mid-Atlantic rift was detected, of high significance in the ultimate confirmation of the theory of continental drift and plate tectonics.

In modern times, every year without exception has regular science-related events as a matter of course, the most well-known of which is the annual awarding of Nobel prizes. Other events can be noted as scientifically newsworthy, but of a more incidental nature than important scientific advances. Although Table 1 lists the main occurrences relevant to consideration of the scientific productivity of 1953, Table 2 lists some accompanying happenstances of a more secondary nature. This is not to suggest, of course, that the scientific achievements of the 1953 Nobel Prize winners, or those who happened to die in that year, were in any way ‘secondary’ in terms of their long-term impact. It is simply that their major accomplishments were prior to 1953, and thus winning a prize or ending a career through death are secondary to the actual dates of such advances themselves. By way of comparison, Watson and Crick (in conjunction with Maurice Wilkins for his associated DNA X-ray crystallography) were awarded a Nobel Prize for their elucidation of the structure of DNA, but not until 1962.


Table 2. ‘Incidental’ science-related events of note occurring in 1953.  Hermann Staudinger won the Nobel Prize for chemistry for “discoveries in the field of macromolecular chemistry”. Hans Krebs and Fritz Lipmann shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine for the metabolically important discoveries of the citric acid cycle (Krebs Cycle) and coenzyme A, respectively. Fritz Zernike was awarded the corresponding Physics prize for the development of phase contrast technology, and the phase contrast microscope. Edwin Hubble is famed as the astronomer who showed the expansion of the universe, and Robert Millikan was the physicist who measured the charge on the electron via renowned oil-drop experiments, winning a Nobel for this in 1923.


Given the central importance of 1953 in the history of molecular biology, it is ironic that the advances associated with the 1953 Nobel prizes for chemistry and physics have both had direct impact on the life sciences. (Of course, the corresponding prize for medicine is of obvious biological significance). Phase-contrast microscopy has long been an important tool in many areas of biology, of which bacteriology is a key beneficiary. But chemistry advances pioneered by Hermann Staudinger are of particular interest in the context of this blog, since an adaptation of a chemical joining procedure now bearing his name has recently gained prominence in chemical biology. This ‘Staudinger ligation’ can be performed with reagents which do not interact with normal chemical components of living systems, and thus finds application within very recent developments in ‘bio-orthogonal chemistry’, the major preoccupation of the previous post.

Some items from Table 2 may need a little expansion. By 1953, the major technological innovation of the transistor had moved from the laboratory (where it was invented in late 1947) into wide-scale commercial applications, and for this reason that particular year was named ‘The Year of the Transistor’ by Fortune magazine. My nomination of the publication of a book, Removing the Causes of War, by Kathleen Lonsdale may seem a surprising choice. But she was scientifically very notable for her direct physical confirmation of the planar structure of the important benzene molecule by X-ray crystallography. Although this occurred well before 1953 (in 1929), the publication of her peace-related book in 1953 serves as an incidental reminder of her scientific achievements. Also, this dual interest in both physical chemistry and peace activism inevitably brings to mind Linus Pauling, who won a chemistry Nobel the following year, and a second Nobel Peace Prize in 1962. In the latter sphere Pauling  published a book called No More War. He is also noteworthy in this context as a competitor with Watson and Crick for the elucidation of the structure of DNA. Although Pauling’s initial models were incorrect, his previous astute insights in structural biology (such as the assignation of protein α-helical and β-sheet motifs), suggests that he would have soon succeeded with DNA if Watson and Crick had not arrived there first in 1953.

……Amid the Backdrop of the Times

The subject of peace could serve as a reminder that while scientific endeavors might sometimes be represented as ivory-tower enterprises aloof from mundane concerns, that is never truly possible. The general tone of the times must always have an influence, if only at minimum via the extent of public funding made available to science, or the freedom to pursue ‘pure’ research goals without interference from government or other agencies. Table 3 lists several notable events of the year of interest, most of which need no further explanation. The death of Stalin and the execution of the Rosenbergs for ‘atomic espionage’ serve as a reminder of the Cold-War background to the general zeitgeist, with the conquest of Mt Everest one of the more up-lifting events of the year, so to speak. Stalin’s death was a positive development in the Soviet Union not merely in removing a murderous tyrant, but also for science there. He had championed the crackpot ideas of T. D. Lysenko regarding the mechanisms of heredity, and forcibly suppressed the pursuit of proper genetic research. Only with Stalin’s passing could Soviet science begin to recover from this irrational deviation.

It is perhaps regrettable that the reference to the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to George C. Marshall might need a little explanatory amplification, since the level of his renown is disproportionately low compared to his achievements and influence. Among a long list of accomplishments, he was the US Chief of Staff during World War II, and subsequently formulated the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe. This historically important project (ending in 1951) ensured Western European stability for decades following.


Table 3. Some general historical events of note occurring in 1953.


Of all the above general historical events, the first ascension of Mt Everest can be compared with some types of scientific discovery. After a mountain has been climbed, others can follow, perhaps by alternative and more difficult pathways to the top. But irrespective of how a mountain is climbed, once the summit has been reached for the first time, that singular achievement can never be repeated. When a scientific discovery has been made, unlike a mountain ascension, it must be shown to be repeatable before it becomes consensus knowledge. In some cases, though, a scientific discovery fills in existing gaps in knowledge in such an elegant and convincing fashion, that it is rapidly accepted. Irrespective of this, a confirmed scientific discovery is analogous to a ‘climbed mountain’, in that it can never be done again as ‘a first’. The discovery of the structure of DNA in the same year as the first ascension of Mt Everest, is an excellent example if this. There remained plenty more to find out about DNA structure in the wake of Watson and Crick’s famous paper, and the topic is certainly not exhausted even today. Yet the most vital and compelling information was ‘climbed’ in 1953, and can never be so ascended again.

Sometimes general history can appear to have a more or less random aspect, epitomized by the famous saying that it is just “one damn thing after another”. (This has been attributed to various different people, including Winston Churchill). Although many historical outcomes are clearly predicated on what took place beforehand, other events may indeed seem like ‘wild cards’. The latter could be exemplified by major natural disasters, epidemics, or major political changes caused by single individuals. Certainly scientific advances may come serendipitously and from unexpected quarters, but such progress is always built upon preceding generations of successive refinements. Even when a temporary aberration diverts the accumulation of knowledge (as seen for example, with the above-mentioned Piltdown Man hoax), it will eventually be rectified by the self-correcting nature of international scientific enterprise. No scientific discovery is then ever a complete ‘blue sky’ event, in the same sense that some historical occurrences have been.

Is there a real ‘1953 Effect’?

The above material makes a case for the assertion that 1953 ‘stands out’ as an exceptional year with respect to scientific discovery. But is this really the case, or does it come down to some kind of sampling bias? Picking exceptional years for science becomes problematic in the post-war modern era, when the pace of scientific and technical change is so fast that it might be thought a fairly uniform process. As an example of the contrast with previous times, the year 1543 is often cited as the original scientific  ‘Annus Mirabilis’, based on publication of the astronomical findings of Nicholas Copernicus and anatomical studies of Andreas Vesalius. These were indeed spikes of achievement in an otherwise largely flat background, with no comparison to the modern continuous ferment of change and innovation.

One way to attempt to test the alleged pre-eminence of 1953 in an objective manner is to look at the levels of major productivity for specific periods on either side of that year. So, Fig. 1 shows ‘major advances’ for seven years on either side of 1953, including of course the year in question itself. The spike in 1953 is obvious, and supports the contention that its special significance for discovery does not result from cherry-picking or other biases.


Fig. 1. Numbers of major biomedical / social science advances in 1953, and 7 years before and after it. Information for each year is below in References & Details. Here ‘advances’ are restricted to the biomedical field and social sciences for simplicity.


But ‘support’ in this context is not proof, and certainly the data of Fig. 1 could be disputed on the basis of what is included or excluded. For example, the achievements of 1953 include an archaeological triumph (the decipherment of Linear B by Michael Ventris), and this field is sometimes regarded as having a foot in both the social sciences and the humanities. Yet even excluding this event, 1953 still predominates. Since at least two very significant advances included within in physics, chemistry or geology were also listed in Table 1, it is unlikely too that addition of achievements within these fields would radically change the observed pattern in Fig. 1. But even if it did, 1953 would still shine as an Annus Mirabilis within the biomedical field alone.

Obviously, it is possible to include years further in the future to 1960, but changes in the total background of research output also need to be considered. In Fig. 2, the general trends of overall publications by year in Medline after 1945 are shown. (Medline is a large component of PubMed, the free publication database from the US National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubMed itself includes a significant number of non-biological journals, but not in a comprehensive manner over the entire time-period of this survey. Medline (as the name implies) focuses on the biomedical sphere, which also includes important generalist scientific journals). A low level of biological scientific endeavor at the end of World War II is expected, followed by an upward curve of productivity. Yet this has some distinct aspects which are somewhat surprising. Rather than a steady progression of increase, the publication rate in the 1950s reached a plateau. In fact, the level in 1951 was not (slightly) exceeded until 1960, and 1953 was by no means any high point within this period. This plateau effect has not been observed for all the succeeding years since then. A more or less constant rate of increase (with a few wrinkles) is seen for four decades (1960-2000), after which an acceleration of the rate is seen, almost as though the new century and millennium was inspirational for scientific endeavor.


Fig. 2. Distribution of all publications contained within Medline by year 1945-2008, showing that the plateau during the 1950s has not occurred since. Four separate trends (approximate slopes shown with red lines) are apparent: 1940-1950; 1950s; 1960-2000; >2000.


The 1950s biomedical publication pattern is shown in more detail in Fig. 3 below, both for Medline and the more general PubMed. The ‘plateau’ effect is evident in both cases.


Fig. 3. Distribution of all publications contained within PubMed (top) and Medline (bottom) by year 1945-1965. A curve-fit is used for PubMed data, while the Medline data ‘trends’ of Fig. 2 are again shown with red lines.


So, what can we make of these patterns, especially in the light of the theme of 1953? Various explanations might be offered as to why the biomedical publication rate leveled off in the 1950s after an initial post-war surge, but that is not the main issue. Rather, it simply places 1953 in the context of its times. It is quite clear that that the 1950s in general, and certainly the year 1953 itself, were not characterized by an outburst of accelerating productivity in gross terms. Rather, the take-home message is quality over quantity: the outstanding results of 1953 did not occur against a general global back-drop of surging quantities of published scientific data. The innovations of Fig. 1 (Between 1946 and 1960) then all share an approximately equal research publication background rate.

Biology at that time in fact had a considerably lower profile than in the present age. There were ‘hard’ sciences, exemplified by physics and chemistry….and much softer ones. The triumphs of physics in the atomic and quantum domains were fresh and ongoing, and its prestige accordingly very high. In general attitudes, biology was often relegated to the softer sciences, if not always spelt out as such. This should be qualified by noting the many subdivisions within biology itself, which themselves were seen to span a spectrum of ‘hardness’. For example, biochemistry as an experimental science was certainly established long before the 1950s. This ‘harder’ area of biology stood in contrast with ‘softer’ areas such as descriptive zoology and botany, or psychology. But even given biochemical knowledge, biology in general was often considered a poor relation to the physical sciences in terms of its general rigor. Some might say that the essence of this still exists, but the development of molecular biology has done much to dispel such prejudices. Yet in the 1950s, molecular biology had not yet arisen to its current prominence, and its offspring of biotechnology was primordial at best . (Obviously, this depends on how one defines ‘biotechnology’ itself. In its most-frequent current sense where it is heavily underpinned by molecular biology, it clearly did not exist at all, but if traditional selective breeding and other long-standing approaches are included, then it certainly had a presence). In fact, a key feature of the ‘take-off’ of biological science in the 1960s (Fig. 1) and beyond is the increasing application of molecular approaches to a wide variety of studies.

Why 1953?

But even accepting the special nature of 1953 for scientific achievement, does it have any other significance? Or in other words, was there some external factor which somehow contributed to this spike of productivity? A simple answer is, ‘No’. It is simply a chance cluster of independent events without any causal linkages. There is little point in attempting any further analysis, since a statistical cluster is a data set with similar properties, and this is very hard to apply when classifying scientific value. In terms of impact, even acknowledged ‘major’ scientific discoveries clearly have widely differing short and long-term impacts, and attempting to quantitate such factors is fraught with difficulty, even if one accepts that it is possible. But, since the discovery of DNA structure and the Miller-Urey experiment alone both fell in 1953, along with several other notable achievements, there can be little doubt that this year does indeed ‘stand out’. And an ‘Annus Mirabilis’ is no less full of wonder if it is conferred by chance alone.

To conclude an unusual post, an unusual biopoly(verse) is offered, as a salute to both to the central biological accomplishment of the year of interest, and the above-noted poem by Philip Larkin:


A Larkin Lark in Another Annus Mirabilis


DNA, of course, began

In nineteen fifty-three

(Which was earlier than me)

Between the end of the Marshall Plan

And Einstein’s mortality


Up till then there’d only been

Half-baked imagining

A wrangle for the thing

A molecule no-one had seen

A structure for a king


Then all at once (let’s be frank)

Everyone saw the same

And biology became

Molecular money in the bank

With DNA a household name


So labs were never better than

In nineteen fifty-three

(And yet no good to me)

Between the end of the Marshall Plan

And Einstein’s mortality


References & Details

(In order of citation, giving some key references where appropriate, but not an exhaustive coverage of the literature).

‘……60th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick…….’     In fact, the date of this post (April 25th) is the exact publication date of their paper in 1953.

….. ‘Only a small minority of people …..Who first discovered the structure of DNA     From personal experience, despite their scientific fame, the names of Watson and Crick are poorly known in comparison with political figures or celebrities.

‘……the scientific or technological advances are far more meaningful and long-term than the vast majority of short-lived political developments….’     An interesting book in this regard is The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, by Michael H. Hart. Hart Publishing, NY. 1978. Of the total, 37% were directly science-related.

‘… can conclude that an ‘Annus mirabilis’ for scientific discovery could easily ‘fly under the radar’ from gaining widespread recognition….’     In support of this, it can be noted that the Wikipedia entry for ‘Annus Mirabilis’ lists many years which have been cited as such over a 500-year range, but 1953 was not numbered among them, as of April  25th,  2013.

‘……Salk’s work towards a polio vaccine ……. was published in 1953 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. ‘ See Salk 1953.

Table 1 Publications:

DNA structure: Watson & Crick 1953.

Early earth organic synthesis (Miller-Urey): Miller 1953.

Sperm freezing: Bunge & Sherman 1953.

Polio vaccine: Salk 1953.

Piltdown man hoax exposure: See Oakley & Weiner 1953. For a very detailed annotated bibliography relating to the Piltdown fraud, see Turrittin 2006.

Linear B decipherment: Ventris, M. & Chadwick, John (1953). “Evidence for Greek Dialect in the Mycenaean Archives”.  J. Hellenic Studies 73: 84–103. For more detail on Ventris papers, see this source.

Demonstration of neutrinos: See Reines & Cowan 1953. Confirmation was achieved by 1956.

Demonstration of mid-Atlantic rift: See Ewing et al. 1953.

Original operation on HM (1953): See the New York Times 2008 obituary of this patient.  For a scientific account of studies with HM (up to 2002), including citation of the first publication of the case in 1957, see Corkin 2002.

‘… of Stanley Miller (and Harold Urey) ……. has been a scientific landmark…..’      This Miller-Urey experiment was also referred to in a previous post, from the perspective of it having characteristics of a ‘Kon-Tiki’ type experiment. (An experiment where the feasibility of a proposed pathway towards a known system or state is tested by recapitulating the pathway itself under defined experimental conditions. But a successful ‘Kon-Tiki’ experiment alone can only demonstrate possibility, and is by no means proof that the particular pathway studied is that which actually was used, whether in biological evolution or human history.

‘…..the Piltdown man ‘missing link’ in 1912 was proven to be a hoax…..’     The identity of the fraudster has never been proven beyond reasonable doubt, although the discoverer of the ‘fossils’, Charles Dawson, has long been a prime candidate. For a book length account of the original events and the controversy regarding the perpetrator, see John Evangelist Walsh, Unravelling Piltdown, Random House, 1997. See also a 100th-anniversary article on this subject by C. Stringer.

‘…..the major technological innovation of the transistor……’      See the paper of Pinto et al 1997. (hosted by Imec corp.)

‘….Kathleen Lonsdale….’     See an article by Julian 1981 with respect to her benzene work. Removing the Causes of War (1st Edition) was published in 1953 by George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

‘…..George C. Marshall might need a little explanatory amplification……’     See an essay by David Brin that gives more detail on Marshall’s significance.

‘…..the first ascension of Mt Everest can be compared with some types of scientific discovery. ‘     This general point was raised in the additional information provided with the book Searching for Molecular Solutions (‘Cited Notes for Chapter 8, Genomic Introduction – From Stone Age to ‘Ome Age’) in the associated ftp site.

Information for Fig. 1

Year |   Achievements

1946:   1 (Animal behavior; discovery of bee dance communication. See Von Frisch 1946)

1948:   1 (Identification of the role of acetaminophen [paracetamol] in analgesia. See Brodie & Axelrod 148)

1949:   3 ([1] Development of carbon-14 dating. See Arnold & Libby 1949; Libby et al. 1949. [2] Assignment of penicillin    structure. See Hodgkin 1949.  [3] Development of lithium treatment for mania. See Cade 1949.)

1950:   1 (Identification of the Calvin cycle in photosynthesis. See Bassham et al. 1950; Calvin et al. 1950.)

1952:   2 ([1] Renowned Alan Turing paper on chemical basis of morphogenesis. See Turing 1952. [2] Hershey-Chase experiment demonstrating informational role of DNA. See Hershey & Chase 1952.)

1953:    As for Table 1 (excluding physical / geophysical achievements)

1954:   2 ([1] First successful human organ (kidney) transplant by Joseph Murray. See his New York Times obituary. [2] The clinical deployment of antipsychotic phenothiazines (chlorpromazine / largactil). The history of chlorpromazine discovery as an antipsychotic agent is convoluted [See López-Muñoz et al. 2005], and assigning 1954 as the date of this innovation may be arguable, but this year is noted for three North American publications describing its efficacy. In this regard, see Bower 1954; Lehmann 1954, and Winkelman 1954.)

1956:   1 (First accurate finding of the human chromosome number. See Tjio & Levan 1956; also a historical overview by Harper 2006).

1957:   1 (Determination of myoglobin structure by X-ray crystallographic studies.  See Kendrew & Perutz 1957. Full myoglobin structure published in 1960; See Kendrew et al. 1960).

1958:   1 (Frog cloning by somatic nuclear transfer. See Gurdon et al. 1958).

1959:   1 (First successful human organ allotransplantation – See J. Murray Obituary).

1960:   1 (Total synthesis of chlorophyll. See Woodward et al. 1960).

DNA of course began‘…. Note to pedants: The ‘beginning’ of DNA of course refers to its structural elucidation; knowledge of its genetic significance preceded this. As an example, the famous Hershey-Chase experiment of 1952 is among the ‘major’ developments of that year in Fig. The Marshall plan ended in 1952 (as noted above); Einstein died in 1955. 

Next post: September.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s