Wordwatch Towers

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Double take

with 10 comments

DNA molecule closeup
Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes I hear something and it won’t stop buzzing around in my head. I don’t see why I should suffer alone.

I was watching a TV programme about Francis Crick and James D. Watson who jointly discovered the DNA molecule.  At one point, the commentator said:

Crick and Watson had one major advantage: each other.

Isn’t that two major advantages? No, it’s just one. I think.

Isn’t it?



Written by Wordwatch

02/08/2010 at 7:08 am

10 Responses

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  1. Morning Deborah,

    Yep, just one. Though it strikes me was a fairly pointless thing to say. In what way did they have an advantage over, say, any other two people working together?

    In reality their major advantage was the work of Rosalind Franklin, which provided the foundation for their research.

    It wasn’t the DNA molecule that they discovered, btw, but the double helix structure of the molecule – essentially, they figured out what it was that DNA actually did.


    02/08/2010 at 9:57 am

    • Yes, good point about Rosalind Franklin. Women are so often written out of history. I read the David Bodanis book a while back about Einstein’s famous equation in which a number of unsung female scientists were discussed.

      I looked up that DNA molecule thing to double check it before writing this post and am now going to write one hundred lines: ‘I must not believe everything I read online and repeat it on my blog’.

      Are you sure it’s just one?


      02/08/2010 at 10:44 am

      • “Are you sure it’s just one?”

        They each derived an advantage from working with the other, so it could be argued it’s two advantages. My view is that it’s just one, shared, advantage.


        02/08/2010 at 12:20 pm

        • Thanks, Ron. It still buzzes about in my head, though.


          02/08/2010 at 12:34 pm

  2. “C&W had one major advantage: C&W.” You’re being thrown by “each.” It’s in your DNA.

    Michael Farrell

    02/08/2010 at 4:34 pm

    • Thanks, Michael. Yes, I think you’re right. I am being thrown by ‘each’. I still don’t like it, though. Distracting.


      02/08/2010 at 4:47 pm

      • Also agree with Ron about the emptiness of the expression. “Michelangelo had one major advantage over other ceiling painters: himself.”

        Michael Farrell

        02/08/2010 at 5:02 pm

        • Yes, empty and distracting.


          02/08/2010 at 5:10 pm

  3. I’d say it’s just one, too. You could interpret it as an elliptical “[the fact that they had] each other”. But it’s awkwardly phrased, and it’s a bit of a silly idea anyway.


    17/08/2010 at 9:01 pm

    • Hi, Stan — I like your ‘the fact that they had’. That makes sense to me as a way of thinking about it. Many thanks!


      18/08/2010 at 8:50 am

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