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Continuities in Francis Crick's scientific life and the ethos of post-World War II Cambridge biophysics

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Over long careers, researchers often change the topics they study. Francis Crick certainly did, from molecular biology to developmental biology to neuroscience. His latter career in neuroscience, spanning as many years as his career in molecular biology, has so far attracted little scholarly attention, and in the few existing accounts, Crick’s move to neuroscience is depicted as a radical change of career path. The project I have recently started on looks for the continuities over Crick’s long career and across the different subjects he studied. I aim to show that (1) Crick’s research endeavours share a specific theoretical framework, methodological elements and approach to experimentation, (2) the research environments Crick inhabited and helped shape throughout his life were characterised by a distinct form of interdisciplinary research culture. Further, I hope to tie these threads running through Crick’s scientific life to the ethos of biophysics in the decades following World War II, embodied in an exclusive Cambridge biophysics club, the Hardy Club. My interest in this subject fits into my long-term research into interdisciplinary research groups and how they operate. The presentation I will be giving is very much work-in-progress.

This talk is part of the Cabinet of Natural History series.

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