Commentary: Open Source science?

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Back to DiBona, Ockman & Stone and Raymond

DiBona, Ockman and Stone claim that "science is ultimately an Open Source enterprise", but they introduce this idea with a discussion of tensions between access and secrecy in the context of early DNA research. Why was Watson reluctant to share his and Crick's model with Pauling? Where did the data that their model was based on come from? What happened to the source of that data?

  1. History of DNA Research
  2. The Double Helix on Wikipedia
  3. The Double Helix -- Watson's narrative on the process of discovering the double-helix structure

[1] Presents the theory that the structure discovered by Watson and Crick is the first accurate model of DNA.

Watson wanted to make sure his claim was actually true, particularly after a couple more tests and experiments were run. In essence, he wanted to fully debug his solution before releasing the solution. However, as stated in [2] above, he may have had ulterior motives (he may have placed the priority of discovering the structure of DNA over the "ethics" of scientific processes).

-- Fitz. 23:30 EST. 2 Sep 2008.


Watson wanted to keep the discovery in secret because he wanted to verify it and to keep his position. Pauling's discovery was made by sharing information between Cambridge and Cal Tech.

-- Mikio. 11:41. 3 Sep 2008.

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