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Elegance / Elegans
Roger Kornberg, one of Arthur's boys, has a Sydney Brenner story. We all do, but his is more telling than most. Roger spent four years in the 1970s as a postdoc with Francis Crick and Sydney at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, in Cambridge. Sydney would arrive around noon and work through past midnight. As Roger told the story, late one night he, Sydney, and several other postdocs were drinking tea and talking, mostly science. One of the postdocs left. Sydney immediately said of him something true, funny, and cruel. Ten minutes later, another left. Sydney said of him something true, funny, and cruel. So it went. "Finally, Sydney and I were sitting alone," Roger said. "And I was afraid to leave."
Savage intelligence and wit characterize Brenner's science, too. In the Spring of 1953, his last term as a graduate student in Oxford, to which …