A few days ago, Christoph sent the rest of us at STC a most uplifting message. A conversation between Matt Meselson and Frank Stahl, describing their "most beautiful experiment," had just premiered in iBiology.org. Much has been written about the landmark experiment that provided direct evidence for the semiconservative nature of DNA replication, including a Pictures Considered post here at STC. This new video epitomizes something that I find remarkable about the practice of science. When carried out by wonderful individuals, the results are not only advances in knowledge. Of equal significance are the true and lasting friendships that emerge.
I could go on writing about the Meselson-Stahl experiment for quite a while, but your time will be better spent watching the video. I'll limit myself to relating a seldom-heard vignette about how the landmark 1958 paper came to be written. After obtaining the results, Matt and Frank wanted to continue doing more experiments. To get them to sit down and write the manuscript, Max Delbrück drove them from Pasadena to Caltech's Corona del Mar marine station and "forced" them to write while secluded away from the lab at a site overlooking the beach. I first heard this story as a graduate student in the mid-1970s and it really stuck with me. It inspired me to have my lab go off for a week-long retreat in Maine every October. Later in life, I had the good fortune of interacting personally with both Matt and Frank. In person they proved to be equally inspiring. Their conversation makes this readily apparent.