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Creating a Physical Biology – The Three-Man Paper and Early Molecular Biology - Chicago Scholarship Online
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Creating a Physical Biology: The Three-Man Paper and Early Molecular Biology

Phillip R. Sloan and Brandon Fogel


In 1935 geneticist Nikolai Timoféeff-Ressovsky, radiation physicist Karl G. Zimmer, and quantum physicist Max Delbrück published “On the Nature of Gene Mutation and Gene Structure,” known subsequently as the “Three-Man Paper.” This seminal paper advanced work on the physical exploration of the structure of the gene through radiation physics and suggested ways in which physics could reveal definite information about gene structure, mutation, and action. Representing a new level of collaboration between physics and biology, it played an important role in the birth of the new field of molecular b ... More

Keywords: gene mutation, gene structure, Nikolai Timoféeff-Ressovsky, molecular biology, Karl G. Zimmer, Max Delbrück, Erwin Schrödinger, biological reductionism, Three-Man Paper, radiation physics

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2011 Print ISBN-13: 9780226767826
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226762777.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Phillip R. Sloan, editor

Brandon Fogel, editor

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Chapter One Introduction

Phillip R. Sloan and Brandon Fogel

Part I Historical Origins of the Three-Man Paper

PART II Philosophical Perspectives on the Three-Man Paper

Part III The Three-Man Paper

Translator’s Preface

Brandon Fogel

On the Nature of Gene Mutation and Gene Structure

N. V. Timoféeff-Ressovsky K. G. Zimmer M. Delbrück

References in the Three-Man Paper

Prepared by James Barham