Saturday, 29 December 2012

One D is not enough, two is too many


Alexander R Todd, who became Lord Todd of Trumpington (an ancient village in the city of Cambridge which is mentioned in the Canterbury Tales) was considered one of the most authoritarian department chairs in Cambridge University.  He held the chair in Organic Chemistry as the result of his incredible breakthroughs in work with the synthesis of nucleotides that form DNA which led to his Nobel Prize in 1957. 
He was admired and respected; perhaps even feared, but in such a community no one was above a little fun-poking. The British describe it as, "taking the Mickey out of someone."

For Todd it came in the traditional British form of poetic jingles and clerihews. One common one  went thus:
                Do you not think it odd
                That a commonplace fellow like Todd
                Should spell, if you please,
                His name with two d's,
                When one is sufficient for God.

And a similar theme included another Nobel Laureate Nevill Mott:

                Alexander Todd
                Thinks he's God
                 But Nevill Mott
                Knows he's not.


Lord Alexander Todd (1907 - 1997) was awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the the chemical structure of nucleotides and nucleic acids, particularly the phosphate derivatives. Todd is best known for working out the linkage between nucleotides in RNA and DNA but he is also responsible for proving that the sugar moieties are particular ring structures called β-D-ribofuranosides and β-D-deoxyribofuranosides. His lab in Cambridge (UK) synthesized all of the common nucleotides.




Post a Comment