Forty years ago this month, Watson and Crick published their two epochal articles on the structure and proposed function of DNA.1,2 Each article was little more than one page in length, but, as Lord Byron said,... words are things, and a small drop of ink falling like dew, upon a thought, produces that which, makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.
Despite their brevity, these articles, written when Watson was only aged 25 years and Crick, 35 years, had extraordinary implications for the understanding of genetic mechanisms, because theretofore, "no evidence [had] been presented to show how [DNA] might carry out the essential operation of genetic material, that of exact self-duplication."2
Interestingly, Watson and Crick based many of their conclusions on the experimental work of others, underscoring the far-reaching value of published scientific information in the public domain. From this preexisting written record, they used their formidable intellectual powers to
Goldberg MF. Watson and Crick's Legacy and Future Publications in Ophthalmic Genetics. Arch Ophthalmol. 1993;111(4):462. doi:10.1001/archopht.1993.01090040054029