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Quantum Physics for Scientists and Technologists: Fundamental Principles and Applications for Biologists, Chemists, Computer Scientists, and Nanotechnologists by Paul Sanghera

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9

QUANTUM MECHANICS OF MOLECULES

All life involves movement.

Aristotle

Figure 9.0. Francis Crick (standing) and James D. Watson (sitting) (c) discovered the structure of the DNA molecules based on X-ray diffraction pattern (b) taken by Rosalind Franklin (a).

Courtesy of the National Institute of Health.

Francis Crick, James D. Watson, and Maurice Wilkins (a colleague of Rosalind Franklin) were jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries on deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Franklin did not share the Nobel Prize, as she had died in 1958 at the age of 37, and the rules of the Nobel Prizes state that each recipient must be alive to receive the prize. Physics made a grand entrance into biology when according to legend, Francis Crick, originally a physicist and then a biologist, as well, and James Watson, a biologist, walked into the Eagle pub in Cambridge, England, on February 28, 1953, and Crick announced, “We have found the secret of Life”. What they had really figured out was the now famous double helix structure of the DNA molecule. This discovery of the DNA structure catalyzed a revolution in biology by activating the already existing fields of molecular biology and biotechnology. Nevertheless, there was still a gigantic gap between determining the structure of DNA and understanding the exact role of DNA. It took the next quarter century of Crick’s life along with other scientists to develop the ideas that now constitute the basics of molecular ...

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