So, farewell then, Horace Freeland Judson.
“It is as if one were in the classroom with a dozen or so of the world’s greatest biologists, with Mr. Judson acting as the informed student,” he wrote. “We learn as he is learning."
That’s Jeremy Bernstein's appraisal in the NYT obit linked above, and he’s right. The Eighth Day of Creation is a wonderful, wonderful book. It helped inspire me and to show what was possible. The work remains glorious, despite any misgivings about the worker. Nil nisi, and all that.
As for learning as he is learning, I wonder whether anyone else ploughed all the way through the appendix on the importance of heavy metal substitution and Fourier analysis in the interpretation of X-ray crystallograms.
I didn’t know Judson had been friends with Matthew Meselson, but that makes perfect sense now.