Education And Training
Crick was born in Northampton, England, in 1916. He studied physics at University College in London until the outbreak of the Second World War. He then joined the British Admiralty Research Laboratory, where he contributed to the development of radar for tracking enemy planes, and magnetic mines used in naval warfare.
During this time, Crick read What is Life?, a book by the physicist Erwin Schrödinger. Schrödinger's book popularized the work of physicist Max Delbrück, who had begun to apply the analytical tools of physics to inquire what a gene was and how it might behave. Like many other physicists at that time, Crick was excited by Delbrück's approach, and turned his attention to biochemistry and biological physics. While he knew a great deal of physics, he knew very little chemistry or biology at that time. In 1949 he began research at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England, using X-ray crystallography to study the three-dimensional structures of proteins. At that time, Crick wrote that he was interested in "the borderline between the living and the nonliving, as typified by, say, proteins, viruses, bacteria and the structure of chromosomes. The eventual goal, which is somewhat remote, is the description of these activities in terms of their structure, i.e., the spatial distribution of their constituent atoms" (Judson, 88).