NEW YORK, Feb. 28 - Two interwoven crepe paper strands might make a nice, humble decoration at the 50th birthday party of the double helix tonight, but the real celebration, a black-tie dinner hosted for James Watson and 1,000 or so of his friends at the Waldorf Astoria in
The invitation-only party caps off a week of more public helix hoopla, including DNA Week in New York, major stories about the 1953 discovery by Watson and Francis Crick in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, as well as more humble events and exhibits around the world.
Monday, at the New York Library of Science, Industry and Business, Watson spoke to the crowd assembled to fete the opening of an exhibit entitled, "Seeking the Secret of Life: DNA in New York.
He recounted the moment, on the morning of
The 75 year-old Watson, who has been criticized in recent years for not acknowledging the others who worked on the DNA helix, then went on to offer his belated regrets for not sharing more of the credit.
First, he made an apology to that
"I don't know why we didn't reference your results. Now it seems inexcusable," Watson said, looking at McCarty, who also spoke at the event. "We should have, and I feel bad, because when I went to
Watson also expressed humility at his role in moving science forward, and posthumously credited Rosalind Franklin, upon whose experimental work Watson and Crick's analysis partially rested.
"If we hadn't made the discovery, it would have been made by either Wilkins or Rosalind Franklin. It was just waiting to be done," he said. If we didn't exist, science wouldn't have been slowed much, but without the support of Rockefeller, it could have been delayed by a decade."
Later, an opening of a DNA art exhibit held at the City University of New York graduate center, Watson admitted that
Now if only the Nobel committee could have known that.