Francis Crick: anti-vitalist activist

Public history of science lecture by Dr Christine Aicardi

Francis Crick Francis Crick, photographed by Godfrey Argent

Event details

Christine Aicardi is a Wellcome Library research fellow in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London.

In the course of his scientific career, Francis Crick changed research fields several times. In almost 30 years at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, he worked on protein crystallography, molecular genetics, developmental cell biology and the chemical origin of life. Then, for 25 years, his interests turned to visual neuroscience and the science of consciousness while at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego. 

However, the two biographies of Francis Crick published so far devote around four times as much space to his Cambridge-based molecular biology and genetics as they do to his neuroscience research in San Diego, despite the similar periods of time at each institution. In addition, both biographies depict Crick’s move to neuroscience and California in a way that makes it appear as a somewhat whimsical change of career. 

At this point, some obvious questions spring to mind: what did Crick do during his extended spell at the Salk Institute? Did he really contribute so little to the neurosciences that it can be covered in so few pages? And above all, is it possible to make sense of Crick’s dispersed career as a consistent whole? These are the riddles that this talk will attempt to solve.

Attending this event

This event is free to attend and open to all. No tickets are required. Doors open at 12.30pm and seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

We have a limited number of spaces for wheelchair users and ten bookable seats for people with impaired mobility who are unable to queue. To book in advance, please contact the events team. Further information about accessibility is available.

Recorded audio will be available on this page a few days after the event.

Enquiries: Contact the events team

Francis Crick: anti-vitalist activist 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK

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