Late in the day

It is a matter of some irony that two immodest researchers wrote one of the most beautiful understatements in the history of science:

"This structure has novel features of considerable biological interest... It has not escaped our attention that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material."
-- Watson J. D., Crick F. H. (1953) Molecular structure of nucleic acids: a structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid. Nature 171: 737-738.

It was an achievement that changed our perception of ourselves, which prompted more bemused understatement:

"What is the secret of life?" I asked.
"I forget," said Sandra.
"Protein," the bartender declared. "They found out something about protein."
"Yeah," said Sandra, "that's it."
-- Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut

And, naturally, some professional jealousy:
"That ... such giant shadows are cast by such pygmies only shows
how late in the day it has become."
-- Edwin Chargaff, speaking of Watson & Crick

Pygmy or giant, Francis Crick gave shape to our essence. Now he's gone, and we're poorer for the loss.